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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On Break

Whew! I needed this break and I'm so glad that I have us off for two weeks. We're only taking one week for Christmas because it's not in-between our quarters so I won't have planning to do.

Camille has a recital December 5th and her teacher is not happy with her lack of progress in her note reading, for the last two months. It's good to be able to focus on this without any other formal studies. We're leaving tomorrow for my parents' house and I probably won't be online much for the next 4 days. I hope to take the kids on a nature walk while we're gone though so I'll be back with pictures from South Carolina.

We're still reading Swiss Family Robinson, I'm taking Camille's Prima Latina flashcards that she made so we can play Latin Memory- I better make a cheat sheet for myself- and Times Tales so we can start on the Part II stories.

Everything is ready for us when we come back, TOG Year 3- Unit 2, Math on the Level and Science- which are my only subjects that I really have to do much prep in at all. We do have a chicken leg bone soaking in vinegar so that we can bend it when we get home, a project from Head to Toe Science.

I have one more week of teaching Sunday School so we'll be back Saturday. Next week, I'll be exploring the different colleges in our area to find one to attend, hopefully in January if not then in the Spring as well as getting a part-time job at night. I'm going to be extremely busy very soon. Our finances haven't been healthy in the last 5 months and dh's medical bills are a constant drain that only deepens with each procedure he needs. This is going to be a very tight Christmas, the tightest we've ever had. I know others are feeling it too this Christmas and some will be giving each other the present of their company rather than wrapped gifts. I'm just glad I'm able to go home for Thanksgiving and be with my folks.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Second Quarter Overview

2nd Quarter December 1-February 6
One week break for Christmas- Dec. 22-26

BIBLE
In Bible, we'll be studying Genesis using Explorer's Bible Study, Discovery level, Genesis book.

Second quarter will focus on Lessons 10-18; Genesis 12 through Genesis 24

Answering the questions orally has been working well so we will continue in this fashion. It makes using Explorer's Bible Study more like a discussion which we both enjoy.




MATH
In Math, we're trying Math on the Level as our new math program. We are still using Times Tales which we started at the end of the first quarter for multiplication and division facts.










LATIN

We are continuing our Latin studies with Prima Latina happily.







LANGUAGE ARTS & WRITING

We started Primary Language Lessons by Emma Serl, Updated by Margot Davidson during the last portion of our 2nd grade year. We will continue to work through the book this year with great pleasure. Hillside Education has released an Answer Key and Teacher guide free of charge as a .pdf file.

We will finish with Primary Language Lessons in about 30 lessons, then we will start Writing Tales 1 by Amy Olsen. We are still using Writing Aids by Tapestry of Grace just not as our main program.



PHONICS

We are continuing on with the Explode the Code series, we will finish Book 7 and start Book 8 this quarter (see further below). After we finish Explode the Code, Camille will start Simply Spelling by Laurie Hicks.

I use the Teacher's Guide for Explode the Code because Camille gets much more instruction than just using ETC as a workbook.

I'm considering trying ABeCeDarian Student Workbook B-Short Version for Camille, her reading fluency has grown tremendously but she still stumbles a bit. During our break between 1st and 2nd Quarter we are both reading Swiss Family Robinson, she's reading the Classic Starts version and I'm reading the unabridged version. I think we're finally at a turning point in her reading skills.



POETRY MEMORIZATION

We are continuing our poetry memorization with The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Berquist. This quarter we will be memorizing Animal Crackers, Christmas Carol, Furry Bear, The Wind, and Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening and adding to Camille's growing poetry notebook.

This year we are learning about simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia, and alliteration through our poems and Writing Aids.





HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, WORLDVIEW
We are cheerfully continuing our history studies with Tapestry of Grace, this year we'll be using Year 3 Redesign. We will also be using Tapestry's Writing Aids, MapAids and Evaluations.

For the second quarter we will be studying the great movement West, Australia and various American presidents.

We will creating a display board for Australia, including ABC book of Australian animals, continuing our President card bank, and learning all about the West. We will be doing activities from Hands-On History: Pioneers and Interactive 3D Maps: American History. When we study Mexico, I'll get a piñata for the kids to demolish for sweets.



SCIENCE & NATURE STUDY
We are studying germs and microbes, which is where Head to Toe Science by Jim Wiese ended with. We will use Magic School Bus World of Germs kit with other books before reading Exploring the History of Medicine by John Hudson Tiner. For more details.

In our nature studies, we're working on completing the Georgia Junior Park Ranger program and filling in My Nature Journal by Adrienne Olmstead.



INFORMAL LOGIC
Once a week, Camille will continue working in Building Critical Thinking Skills Level 1.







COMPOSER STUDIES & PIANO LESSONS
This quarter we are reading about Johann Sebastian Bach. Camille is continuing her private piano lessons and has a recital on December 5th.







ART INSTRUCTION- DRAWING

Drawing With Children has been replaced with Draw Squad which we love. I loved Drawing With Children in theory but there was a gap between the theory and actually doing it. We are both enjoying Draw Squad.

 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday Nature Walk

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Let's go for a walk.

We took our Junior Ranger program and worked on the plant study, here's what we found.

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A flower with more than 5 petals

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A fuzzy seed that can be carried on the wind

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Spanish moss (flowering plant not really a moss)

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A vine and a hiding critter

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Look Mom, red berries!
Junior Ranger- a red flower or fruit
and a berry- look inside for seeds (Camille did)

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Camille pointing to Sparkleberry

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A fruit with hooks, sweetgum
and Danny wanted his picture taken too

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Danny's holding Magnolia leaves

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A fern

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Ground lichen, looks like dirty snow but it's not.

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and a close up of Cladina evansii ("powder-puff lichen", or "deer moss")

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This was light green, the lady at the park said this was greybeard moss but Spanish moss is also called greybeard. Sigh. I need a book on lichen.

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Camille says this is an insect's nest

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Pink all over the tree? Lady at the park said it's called pepto-bismol but I can't find it in either my field guides or online so- yes, I need a book on lichen!

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More pink lichen?

Camille completed Level III of the Fruits & Flowers section of her Junior Ranger program, finding 9 of 12 items.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

My Method: Planning a TOG Unit

We're currently on a two week break from our lessons, and I'm planning out the 2nd quarter of our year. Yesterday I planned 9 weeks of TOG in about 45 minutes and a friend who struggles with organization said she wants to be able to do this too. So, I'm posting every step I take in preparing a TOG unit (minus the TOG curricula details). A disclaimer- I am only doing this for 1 child, if multiple children, a spreadsheet could be made for each child if this process is appealing.

1. Pick the level of study: LG, UG, D, R. Choose your books based on what you feel your child will do best with.
Right now I'm blending LG and UG to help transition Camille to UG by the end of the year. I cannot give details (titles) but overall I'm picking UG literature and geography and using LG selections for everything else. She's also in Level 2 of Writing Aids.

2. It helps to have in mind how your week will flow.
I know when I'm picking items to include in our week, I factor in how much time it will take to accomplish it. If it seems too much, I won't include it on the spreadsheet. I still filter things out as we do them but being able to filter some just for the spreadsheet helps.

3. Read the Introductory notes for the Unit.
This will provide an overview of the unit's objectives and help set a frame of mind as you're making your choices.

4. Create your spreadsheet.
This can be done Excel or any other program you have to make tables or spreadsheets. I use Appleworks b/c I'm on a Mac, although this is an old program. Microsoft Works should have something similar. Here is a sample spreadsheet with all the details taken out.
I love having a spreadsheet, it becomes my 'cheat' sheet and the only time I have to open our Tapestry unit is to read the Teacher's Notes.

5. Print out Student Activity Pages, MapAids (if you use it), Evaluations (if you use it)
I go to the Loom and print out the Student Activity Pages for each week as well as any maps from MapAids we'll need and Evaluations that I want to use. I also print out the page for Fine Arts & Activities most of the time and highlight with a highlight marker activities I think we'll do that are suggested.

Usually the Geography activities are listed under Fine Art so I'll also highlight those. I put these in Camille's notebook with her Student Activity page and map from MapAids. To save paper, I print the activities on 1 side of a piece of paper and the SAP on the other side.

I also photocopy anything we'll need from Activity Books or Dover coloring books we're using- paper crafts or any prep work I can do ahead of time. If I choose to go ahead and cut items I put them in a page protector within her notebook to keep them safe. I don't tend to do this although it does save time when I do!

6. Collect your books and materials on one shelf
This is a time-saver for me, I have one place to go for our materials.

Now TOG is a do-the-next-thing subject for us, with just a little bit of planning.

Both Camille and I can look at the spreadsheet to see what needs to be done in a week's time. I do not schedule out daily assignments but we still get everything done in a week. At times we drop activities or books to read. Here's look into what we currently do weekly:

MONDAY
Start reading the Core Book
Start reading the In-Depth book (if there is one)
Reading the Read-Aloud selection at bedtime

TUESDAY
Finish the In-Depth book
Dd8 starts reading the Literature book (if she didn't start on Monday due to length)
Start working on Map Work /Writing Aids or other Project (if any)
Reading the Read-Aloud selection at bedtime

WEDNESDAY
Finish Core book if haven't
Keep reading Literature book
Work on Map work/Project
Reading the Read-Aloud selection at bedtime

THURSDAY
Finish Literature reading, work on SAP
Finish any other reading for the week- I usually divide it up by days (dividing # of pages by # of days)
Work on (finish) map work/project
Reading the Read-Aloud selection at bedtime

FRIDAY
Finish up day for anything lingering
Reading the Read-Aloud selection at bedtime (most of these last more than 1 week)


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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2nd Quarter Life Science

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From December 1-19th, we're studying GERMS

Then Exploring The History of Medicine by John Tiner. Dec. 29th-Feb. 6th

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Click on picture to view larger.
We will use History of Medicine, Eyewitness Medicine and Famous Experiments. I aligned Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia and How the Body Works because I wasn't sure which I'd use but clearly Eyewitness Medicine is perfect for Exploring the History of Medicine.
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Fire Safety Field Trip

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Firefighter dressed completely, they turned on the air tanks and talked through their speakers. I'm so glad they did that because as a child, I would be scared of a giant figure walking towards me breathing and talking like an alien. Lol.

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The kids holding hands, waiting to enter the smoke house to simulate how to safely get out in case of a fire. Danny is still pointing at our smoke detectors and teaching us to crawl out!

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Camille is whizzing past me and Danny is crawling behind her. He has red eye from the camera.

Now here's the demonstration that we witnessed, sorry about the picture quality- it's from my digital camera.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

First Look at MOTL

I hesitate posting about Math on the Level just yet because I have the Starter Set and we haven't used it yet. I went ahead and ordered the rest of the books already though because I am in love.

I have mixed feeling about a few elements so I just share my thoughts, it'll be fun to revisit this post after we've used it for a couple of months. I will not say negative because I don't feel there are true negatives in the program, it really depends on the user, so I'll say concerns instead.

1. There are no grade levels.
Positive: You can move at your child's pace and maturation. You have all you need for K-PreAlgebra (cost-effective) without having to buy anything else unless you choose to for convenience. A concept chart and a suggested teaching sequence are provided, as well as help from other users at the yahoo group.

Concern: There are NO grade levels! Lol. You decide what to teach at what time and you determine what your child is ready for. Of course the suggested teaching sequence is there but if you've used a math curricula- most have the scope & sequence laid out for you. There is no thinking about this on the teacher's part, you just follow the program. This of course is also a positive for the program - you don't have to follow someone else's idea of what is appropriate for your child. If you compare math programs, they are vastly different in scope & sequence - which means it doesn't really matter in the long run.

2. Record keeping
This is really another part of the fact there are no grade levels. There are two things the parent needs to keep track of: the concepts being taught and the 5-a-day reviews. The 5-a-days are 5 math problems that the child solves daily no matter what concept is being taught. The parent provides the problems for the 5-a-days, there are problems provided in the materials. The 5-a-day review has varying levels of frequency: daily, every 2 days, weekly, every 2 weeks, every 3 weeks.

Positive: You can work on what concepts your child needs at their pace. This makes the program spiral and mastery. Concepts are reviewed until a more advanced concept is taught to replace the simpler concept. Instead of using a math program that keeps revisiting the same concepts over and over again each year, the child is mastering the concepts and progressing forward into more advanced concepts as they are ready. The spiral approach is within the 5-a-day review, when the concepts are being reviewed every week then every 2 weeks, finally every 3 weeks. If the child does not do well with the concept then the problematic concept gets taught again and restarted on the review cycle.

Concern: There is a learning curve to figuring out how to use the record keeping yourself, the program provides samples and instructions but how you decide to use it in your own experience, is again...up to you. Another concern I have is the 5-a-days, when I use all of the sample problems, will I be able to make my own? I suspect the answer to this is yes, I will be able to make my own as other users have done or find other resources for problems online or from workbooks. The whole record keeping approach is new to me in math, I'm sure with time it will become second-nature but at first it is very intimidating.

3. Multi-level children can learn together
Children of different ages can be grouped together to cover the same general topic but at varying degrees of the concept. For example:
6 year old is learning how to identify and count money
8 year old is learning how to add or subtract with cent or dollar sign
12 year old is learning how to compute interest or tax
Everyone is learning about money.

Of course since they are different concepts, each child's 5-a-days will be different. One factor that I especially like is that I'm using ONE program for both kids, I can have Camille work on her 5-a-day while I work with Danny on his current concept. While Danny is working on his 5-a-day, I can work with Camille on her concept. Together as a family, we can play games to reinforce the concept.

Positive: Easier on the parent to teach multiple children without juggling multiple programs.
Concern: 5-a-days still need to be tailored to each child.

4. Real life math and teaching moments
Honestly, this was the hook that reeled me in. Real life math, games and utilizing teaching moments in LIFE is what I feel other program lack. Math is a part of life, not just a subject to study from 9:00 am to 9:30am Monday through Friday.

Of course the Concern here is how effective I'll be at taking advantage of real life situations but the positives are apparent. In the Math Adventures book alone:
Cooking: basic cooking activities; metric cooking; nutrition and meal planning/preparation; shopping
Using Money: playing store; games; budgeting and banking; creating a simple business
Travel Time: math games; mental math; math stories; music and memorization; fuel and mileage; maps; charting and graphing
Games: general principals of using games in school; tips for toddlers; purchased games; home-made games; active games
Vocabulary: basic vocabulary words; family vocabulary words; geometry words; geometry words defined
Unit Studies: Unit Studies and Math on the Level

I've already started implementing math in our life- it does take recognizing and optimizing the opportunities though. Yesterday, Danny, Camille and I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items- the kids wanted ice cream. They were both pointing at what type they would like while I was looking at the prices. Pet ice cream half gallon was $2.69 , Camille wanted to get individual pints that were $1.99 each. Instead of saying, "That will cost too much to buy them individually." I let her figure it out.

Camille the pints are $1.99 each so let's round that up to $2.00. How many do you think we'll need? She said, four, one for each of us. I asked her, what is 4 x 2? She said 8. I pointed at the half gallon and said, "how much is this half gallon that we can all share?" She replied, "$2.69." I asked her which one is the better buy? The individual pints that will cost $8 or the half-gallon that will cost $2.69. "Ptch. (I don't know how to translate mouth noises into type) The half-gallon is cheaper! I can't believe they charge so much for the pints!" Camille said.

Okay so in about 5 minutes she multiplied, compared a pint to half gallon and learned to be cost conscious! I'm sure there are other concepts that were touched upon but I'm still learning myself.

I'll figure out the record keeping bit but I'm 98% sure we have a new math program that we're going to LOVE. A few things I didn't touch on- The concepts are parent taught, the books provide all that you'll need including helpful visual aids in color, game suggestions, real life suggestions and different ways to present the concept, sometimes even with different manipulatives. The 5-a-days problems that are provided also have the answers.

Math is not my favorite subject and I consider myself a non-math mom. I don't feel I've touched on every thing about this program, I hope if it sounds interesting that you will read more at the Math on the Level website and join the yahoo group to ask other users.

UPDATE: I've decided to use the Suggested Teaching Sequence and leave the option for rabbit trails open instead of creating a teaching sequence.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

First Quarter Report

Explorer's Bible Study- Discovery: Genesis
We have worked through lessons 1-9 which covers Genesis 1-7. I had my doubts whether Camille would be ready for a step up in work concerning Bible study but she has quelled those fears and I'm very proud of her. We struggled a bit trying to decide whether to write the answers out or to answer orally. Once we decided, Bible is now a time of snuggling and reading God's word followed by a discussion. The only exception is the map work.

Horizons Math 3

Horizons Math 3 has been dropped and I am contemplating whether to sell the teacher manuals for all three years we have, year 1-3. This was a bold move for me, I've suspected that Horizons wasn't really teaching Camille math but just leading her through the motions, she learned how to do math the Horizons way but there wasn't much understanding outside of the workbook pages. I decided to take a chance and look for a new program. We have Math on the Level right now at the end of the first quarter and I'll be deciding soon whether it is our new math program.

Times Tales by Memory Trigger Systems has been wonderful. We are using it while we are transitioning math programs.

Prima Latina
We love Prima Latina, we enjoy watching Mrs. Lowe and having a different approach for one of our subjects. Camille has always done well with memorization and since we've dropped a lot of memorization for more hands-on approaches, she excels with Prima Latina. I don't know if it's the most fun program out there but we make our own flashcards and play games with the vocabulary. Her work load for the week is:

Monday- watch DVD
Tuesday- make vocabulary flashcards (listen to CD)
Wednesday- review vocabulary, complete 1 page of exercises
Thursday- review vocabulary, complete 2nd page of exercises
Friday- none

Primary Language Lessons by Margot Davidson
I've seen Camille grow with this program at a steady rate since we started it last January. She has 26 pages of written work in her notebook, some pages have double lessons. She has written friendly letters, started descriptive writing, rewritten fables and completed plenty of copywork with grammar concepts woven in. We have expanded on the grammar concepts with Writing Aids and Grammar Tales. As we end first quarter we are on lesson 132.

Explode the Code, Book 7

We've ended the first quarter on Lesson 10, just where our spreadsheet said we would. Lesson 10 is a review lesson which is perfect to do when we start back up in two weeks. I'm not certain it is truly helping but I suppose Camille is building her vocabulary, phonetic awareness and her reading has improved greatly. Unsure about whether it is because of ETC or maturity and practice. We will finish and complete Book 8 for good measure just in case.

Poetry Memorization from The Harp & Laurel Wreath
This quarter Camille has memorized:

Bird Talk by Aileen Fisher (4 stanzas)
Merry Sunshine by Anonymous (4 stanzas)
Foreign Lands by Robert Louis Stevenson (5 stanzas)
Windy Nights by Robert Louis Stevenson (2 stanzas) *still working on

We are one week behind what I slated for each poem, Foreign Lands taking one more week than expected but I'm so proud of her. I raised the bar on the amount and she has risen to the challenge.

Tapestry of Grace Year 3 Redesign, Unit 1
We have studied the French Revolution through the War of 1812 and SimĂłn BolĂ­var and learning about South America. Camille has been making president flashcards and has Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe so far. She made moccasins, a quill pen, and a collage of South American countries and flags which was supposed to be a South American map puzzle. We enjoyed learning about Lewis & Clark very much and completed an interactive paper map as well as other paper crafts to illustrate what we have learned.

Through Tapestry, we've also read many picture book fairy tales which we enjoyed with afternoon tea. We read Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Bremen-Town Musicians, Rumpelstiltskin, and the original Grimm's Cinderella and charted the elements of a fairy tale if each tale had:
1. Special Words (Once upon a time, lived happily ever after, etc.)
2. Good character
3. Evil character
4. Royalty and/or Castle
5. Magic
6. Problem and Solution
7. If there were occurrences in 3's or 7's.
We've had a bout of colds and sore throats so we gave this up a few weeks but I'm satisfied with what we've done.

Building Critical Thinking Skills Level 1
We both enjoy this, at first Camille was doing it independently but she became stagnant in completing the work so I joined her and we're both having fun now. This week she completed 6 exercises in 30 minutes and wanted to continue.

Head to Toe Science by Jim Wiese and supplements
Not to sound like a broken record but we've had fun and learned a great deal using Head to Toe Science. We have oodles of completed projects from Easy to Make and Learn Projects: Human Body by Donald Silver and we have a completed My Body outline by Teacher Created Resources. We have one chapter to finish while during our break because there are 10 chapters and I didn't want to condense any of it. I think Camille was most impressed by the cow bone we obtained from the butcher. The experiments have been great and easy. Camille also built a double helix with our Zoob pieces, very cool.

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Camille has had to write out her science vocabulary for the last three chapters and this will continue through the rest of our science studies. I am currently reading about teaching science through inquiry and keeping an inquiry-based science notebook. I feel this was an excellent start for our year.



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Nature Study & Field Trips
-We've walked a local 3 mile trail 4x in the last 9 weeks and observed grasshoppers, spiders, birds, turtles, fiddler crabs, flowers and noticed the trees changing. One time Camille held a grasshopper in her hand!
- Skidaway Island State Park and identified animal tracks.
-On our milkweed plant at home, we've had milkweed bugs and monarch caterpillars.
- UGA Marine Extension Aquarium and walked the nature trail where we saw dolphins.
-Local park, we've observed and identified the various geese including Canadian, Greylag and Muscovy ducks as well as a Great Egret
-At the Savannah Ogeechee Canal the kids feed gopher tortoises, observed spiders, butterflies and mushrooms as well as learned to walk over water. We saw many different types of birds nests at the center.
-Discovered mantisflies in our backyard, observed spiders.
-Identified and observed neighborhood hawks, Canadian geese and a woodpecker.
- Identified and observed the many different butterflies that have visited our milkweed plant.
- Attended a Public Safety Day where we were able to explore many emergency vehicles and watch fire fighters use the Jaws of Life.
- Attended a Fall Festival, with petting zoo where Camille held and petted a snake and the kids learned about whelks.
- Went roller skating with a local homeschool group
- Visited a fire department and learned to escape a fire.

Drawing with Children replaced by Draw Squad
Draw Squad has been a hit! We both love it as I see Camille's drawings becoming better and better. She draws on her own so I didn't need to ask her to keep a drawing journal like Draw Squad suggests. While I love Drawing with Children, it just wasn't pick up and go which is what Draw Squad provides.

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Handicrafts and Character Studies
I've pretty much dropped these, although I didn't intentionally drop needlepoint. It was a slip through the cracks, we ran out of time type thing. I'm assessing whether to make it a part of our day for the 2nd quarter, and when. Character studies have been dropped, we love the character booklets we have from Keepers of the Faith but after a few attempts they were forgotten.

Composer Study & Biography
I'm hanging my head in shame. We listened to Vivaldi occasionally but not as much as I intended to. Preparing and eating lunch while listening to a composer is great if you can remember to put the CD in the stereo and press play! By the time I would remember, lunch would be over. I don't care how easy someone wants to say reading a book for 15 minutes daily is, if you don't REMEMBER to do it...it's the hardest thing in the world. We finally read I, Vivaldi and I am so grateful to have Opal Wheeler biographies to read for the rest of the year's composers.

Independent Reading
I've had Camille read various books that aligned with out studies, including books from Tapestry deemed independent reading as well as science titles such as What Happens to a Hamburger? The one book that has made the most impact on her reading is the one she's reading right now, The End of the Beginning by Avi. She is enjoying it and although she could read the entire book in 2 days, she's reading 3 chapters a day. She'll finish it tomorrow (11/14) and then we'll start tandem reading Swiss Family Robinson during our break. She's going to read the Classic Starts version while I read the Unabridged version and then we'll discuss it with a few helps from Teaching the Classics.

Piano
Camille is enjoying her new teacher and will perform The First Noel and The Angels Heard on High at a recital December 5th. Her new teacher is not using Alfred's Basic Piano course but she has grown in many ways following his methods.

I have failed in Mom's School. I just don't have enough of me to go around and I'm okay with that although I'm constantly wanting to study and learn something on my own. I have a long list of want to's. Currently I have to learn a new math program and plan out the second quarter.

Notes for possible changes: Afternoon tea can be with a composer once a week, read one chapter a week while listening to the composer.

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Week 9 Report

Life: I've lightened up a little bit this week in our lessons due to personal circumstances and life stress, it has been decided that I need to get a part-time job and the only time I can work is at night so that I can continue to homeschool.

Our church asked me to take over the youth program on Wednesday nights and although I WANT to and know that I could make a strong impact on the ministry, I have to pass in lieu of working. God, family, church. Since I'm the curricula coordinator at the church, I can still be helpful but what is really needed is an energetic, enthusiastic, fresh approach to a youth program for at-risk kids. The current volunteers are a bit burnt out and the power struggles about what to do are disheartening. I feel awful that I cannot be the answer for them because I have the energy and enthusiasm, not to mention I'm fresh-blood- a new perspective that has nobody's interests at heart but the kids. I'll continue to do what I can, who knows- maybe the new job will allow me to be there on Wednesday nights.

Math Programs: Math-U-See was not a hit here, I like it but Camille did not. We watched 5 lessons, including one about money. Camille said she didn't understand why the teacher used blocks instead of magnetic money to teach with. I enjoyed Steve Demme's humor and rapport with the students, I liked the illustration of concepts with manipulatives but to use Math-U-See, I feel I would have to add supplements for word problems.

To be honest, I think both Camille and I are accustomed to the vast amount of concepts Horizons Math presented and spoiled by the color worksheets, everything else seems too simplistic. I know the simplicity is what makes Math-U-See a strong program, we're currently seeking help for our spiral math addiction. Lol.

Actually, we're not...Math on the Level arrived yesterday and we can be both mastery and spiral as we see fit! I'm very pleased with Math on the Level, the teacher's guides illustrate the concepts in multiple ways, in color (yes, I'm spoiled), and I couldn't find a single weakness of the program where I feel the need to supplement. I will share more about Math on the Level as I become better friends with it, it is a lot of information to assimilate but I'm confident once I have, I will develop a rhythm with it, just as I have with Tapestry of Grace.

Bible, Primary Language Lessons, Building Critical Thinking Skills Book 1, and Explode the Code Book 7 have gone well this week without a hitch.

Camille's handwriting is wonderful! We've been using a Scott-Foresman D'Nealian (book 3) handwriting book 1x a week, she's to do 2 pages which I haven't scheduled in or mentioned before but using the workbook has paid off greatly!

Math this week has been Times Tales, we've been working on Part I which was shown in the video Camille made. Camille didn't believe we were doing math at all until I presented the flashcards (which I didn't tear out, I just showed her the page like in the video) and she saw the numbers. We will continue with Times Tales through next week during our break.


History: Tapestry of Grace, Year 3 Redesigned- Week 9
Due to colds this week, we have not finished Once On This Island but we're okay with that because we really enjoy the book and are happy to continue it.

This week is our final week of South America and I embarrassed myself. In the South America book that we're using there are maps to label and little stickers to put on each country to show what each country's natural resources are. I thought, 'we can photocopy these countries and make our own South American puzzle map!' Are you laughing yet? Um, Venezuela is larger than Brazil, Uruguay is larger than Chile and of course I don't realize this faux pas until poor Camille has labeled each map and we started piecing them together on our 'South America poster', which was my grand idea but poorly thought out. We just put them in the approximate place they should be and added the colored flags. It still looks great but the end product is nothing like the end product I had envisioned when we started!


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I found our copy of A Picture Book of SimĂłn BolĂ­var by David Adler so we were able to read that this week. There was a part in the book I had issue with...
"In March 1812 an earthquake in Caracas killed some ten thousand rebels while the Spanish forces were mostly unharmed. Many people saw this as a sign that God was fighting on the side of the Spanish king. BolĂ­var didn't. "If nature is against us," he said, "we shall fight it and force it to our will."
I understand that BolĂ­var was fighting for the good of the country but to imply that he would fight nature (or God) and force it to his will...well that didn't sit well with me. Unsure of how to address it, I left it alone and kept fighting. On one hand, BolĂ­var was brave and determined for a good cause but on the other hand, was he really saying that he was willing to go against God? I'm not sure myself which is why I left it alone.


Life Science: Head to Toe Science by Jim Wiese

This week we discussed DNA and the reproduction system, I'm very happy with the treatment of this subject in this book. We did our experiments and then read Gregor Mendel, The Friar Who Grew Peas which is an excellent living book.

We visited a few friends' blogs to compare their traits and whether they look like their father or mother. What a blessing it is to have friends who have many children...it really helped illustrate the differences multiple children can have in their traits with the same parents.

I find that a little hilarious, thank you for having 5-6 kids so that we can see your family as a science experiment on genetics and heredity since we don't have as many!


Music: We also finished up our informal study of Antonio Vivaldi, although we have nothing to show for it but heads full of his compositions and the reading of I, Vivaldi.

Tomorrow we will be going to a fire department with the homeschool group that I'm not a part of yet, the kids will be able to tour the firehouse and experience the smokehouse-which will teach them to find their way out of a fire safely. We're all excited although I'm a bit disappointed to not have a nature study two weeks in a row.

Next I will post a First Quarter recap of all we've learned and changed in this first quarter. It'll be a sort of progress report.

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