Week In Review 2019: Week 4

Our first month of school is under our belts, and crazily enough the first month of 2019 is also under our belts. This also means that in less than 2 weeks our eldest turns 18, where on earth did the time go?!

This week we had a public holiday on Monday to recognise Australia Day, which was a little silly because Australia Day fell on Saturday, but alas the government felt need to be sure we all had a day off from work.. or something like that.

While we didn’t attend to all our studies on Monday we did attend to a few things, amongst which was math. Most of the rest of our day was spent putting the house back in order and stacking up wood from the shrubs we trimmed.

Ahh, the story of our shrubs is a long one and best saved for another day, but they are very very tall and need much taming. We opted to thin them out just a little bit to prevent the neighbour doing further damage to them, and it took us nearly the whole weekend!

There were some groans about having to attend to math on a “public holiday” so I attempted to woo them with leftover {allergy friend} brownies I’d made for Australia Day. One child was delighted, the other snubbed them. Ahh well, you simply can’t win them all with brownies, but a good Pavlova often does the trick. 
One of the boys has been watching the new Carmen SanDiego shows on Netflix and in one episode “Carmen” jumped on a snowmobile to make her escape, the detective in pursuit caught up with her in a matter of seconds to which someone was overheard muttering, “Clearly the writers didn’t do enough Algebra problems.” Oh goodness did I laugh!

The crazy racoon will pop up every so many lessons with TT, or some other encouraging note or joke, and each time it’s happened I’ve tried to snag a photo with 0 luck. This week I managed one and sent the photo through our Family Chat which confused poor Mr S who was at work and had 0 clues what was going on.

Another full week of history, which felt a considerably heavier load this week with not attending to it on Monday. We will likely have a day or two to catch-up with in our final week of term, but that’s all right, I’d rather enjoy the journey then spend the days rushing through them.

We’re still working our way through The Cat Of Bubastes, and will wrap that up next week. I opted to slow the pace for a variety of reasons, which is lovely but also means we will likely have to scrap a few of the Living Library books in order to be able to do that with future books, but that’s fine. We’ve previously read a few that were planned.

We have 8 chapters left in our first PAC booklet, which actually surprised me because it looked like a lot less. I can only presume that a few of the chapters ahead will be short, not that any of the chapters have been super long yet. We’re still enjoying the little booklets and feel they give a more balanced view of things than Unveiling The Kings Of Israel does.

We continued our voyage with Unveiling The Kings Of Israel this week, we still found small issues with it, but it was much less than in previous weeks. However the author spent more time speaking to his personal travels, history {from his changed date system}, and other author’s writings which were all interesting to read.

We also found that we had more timeline figures to add to our Portrait Gallery, but it was also stated that if you no longer had room {we didn’t} to put them on the actual timeline lines. We did, but I have to confess they seem big and clunky there. Had we known we could have printed them at a slightly smaller size to help it fit better. Oh well, perfection is not the goal!

We had a lot more mapping in our notebooking pages this week, which the boys enjoyed, compared to writing. Not that they don’t like the writing aspect, although they felt slightly frustrated by this weeks written narration as the information provided was very skimpy. We’ve read about Hammurabi in previous trips through World History, so they weren’t lacking for knowledge, but sticking with the assignment they tried to draw from the information provided.

If you’re astute you’ll notice that the above photo strip is the same as last week.. that’s not from a lack of attending to our Language Arts, but more the lack of Mamma remembering to take photos. We’re still enjoying our time with Just David, although honestly I’d like to snatch the book and go curl up somewhere with it because I want to see where it’s taking us! One of my boys isn’t as impressed but he confessed he’s struggling with the narrator of the book, so I read it aloud a few days.

They’ve made enough progress on their first poem that they were able to use the “missing words” side of the card to practice with this week, one still has a bit of work to do with his geography card, but the other has them down pat. Not a huge shocker. They both have the Latin/Greek down too.

This week we read about Ralph Waldo Emerson, and discussed some of his poetry’s deeper meanings. The kids also had their first dose of sentence diagramming which they didn’t bat an eye out after years of IEW which gave them the confidence to recognise parts of speech. They still need to attend to an annotation lesson, but it will keep for another day. They also worked on a few other small writing projects with the curriculum, there’s a bit more meat in there than it appears upon first glance.

We continued with our Art History lessons this week wrapping up Disc 2 with Mr Stebbing and jumping into Short Lessons In Art History which has small bios about various authors. This meant we also reached a new section of our Art Gallery Notebooking Pages which made for a nice change. These are the only pages we aren’t typing on, the kids took turns labelling the art work this week. Morgan is still working on his Tiffany Window, I’m excited to see the finished project! 
We found that some of the description of the Madonna with Child and Virtues were difficult to see in the small, but beautiful, art work on the notebooking page so I had a quick google search and found a lovely large photo of it on Wikimedia which allowed us to see all the wonderful details that were being described to us. 
We made a small switch, yes already, to our curriculum. We were given the opportunity to try out Guest Hollow Chemistry, which had me thrilled to bits as his was something I’d intended to go with in the first place, and yet didn’t originally run with. The curriculum is put together with lots of lovely book choices, videos, and a hefty workbook for the students.

It comes with gobs of videos suggestions and link, practical kitchen experiments {okay, cooking!}, and the ability to make this curriculum cover a few credits that the boys need for high school so I was  beyond excited to give this a whirl. I know we’re still in what’s often dubbed “the honeymoon” period, but my goodness did we have fun! My science hater didn’t complain once, and may have chuckled, oohed, and ahhed.

We’re loving Dr Joe And What You Didn’t Know which is loaded with fun questions that have surprising answers. While I really do prefer physical books for most things we are relying on an Audible copy merely because we wanted to dig into this programme NOW and that was the quickest way to get the book as our library doesn’t have it. We’re also digging into Culinary Reactions, which is also in audio format for the same reason. We learned about weighing and measuring ingredients and why it matters and affects the outcome from a chemical reaction, we learned about calories, and foams.. With the big experiment this week being to make bread, we made our traditional Buckwheat Bread recipe which we turned into pizza crust, my science hating child was over the moon giddy.

We watched a load of small clips on YouTube which I put together on watch lists on YouTube to make it easier to pull them up each day and mirror them from a device to our tv. It also cuts down on the race to find the right link, and allows an auto-play feature to work on the playlists. We watched Mr Brady with the crazy hair get very excited about all kinds of elements, and his helper blow up bubbles made of helium. We also watched a Mythbusters Episode about the Hindenburg and possibilities of how/why it might have blown up.

Honestly, it was one of the best weeks of science we’ve had in a while, mostly because everyone was keen to attend to the lessons!

We also decided to take our own route with health.. after much prayer, internal debates, and some research we’ve decided to take a much different route with health. The reality is that we had a very thorough year of biology last year which covered reproduction on an absurdly crazy amount of levels, as well as different functions of the body. Frankly we’re not interested in a health curriculum that is repeating everything we learned last year. So after coming up with a plan of action I sat the boys down and explained that amongst a few other requirements for the year I would be emailing them articles that they’d be required to read and then we’d be discussing them the following day. They were pretty excited about it, I may or may not share the articles and other requirements as we attempt this voyage.

All up we had a good week despite the interruption on Monday. We decided that we like it better when interruptions and holidays happen on Fridays vs Mondays. We spent the week feeling far less rushed to accomplish things than we do when they occur on Mondays, and yet it’s all the same amount of time really isn’t it? 

Week In Review 2019: Week 1

Wow, hasn’t time flown by, it seems like yesterday I was living in a tiny little 2 bedroom apartment kicked back on an oversized sofa reading through Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Homeschool Picks as I debated what curriculum to use with my children.

12 years later my eldest is nearly done with high school, I can only dream of that oversized sofa which I long ago donated to Goodwill upon leaving the USA, and Cathy Duffy now has 102 Top Homeschool Picks book out.

Yet, here we are, two high schoolers in our little school. The end is in sight for this homeschooling Mamma and she faces it with a bag of mixed emotions that range from fear to delight. You know the old saying, “The days are long and the years are short?” Oh how I hated that saying when my boys were little, when the days were incredibly long and I was worn and weary dying for bedtime at 3pm, but now that I have teenagers who stay up later than I do I fully understand that statement.

The days truely were long in the beginning, and honestly some still are, but my haven’t the years flown by? Where did they go, and how did they slide by me so fast?

On Monday we started our 2019 school year after a long and delicious summer break in which we did a lot of nothing and a little of everything. Many rounds of Dutch Blitz were had, many episodes of Tim Hawkins humour were watched, memories were reflected upon, goals were set for the new year, and hours were spent watching the stars come out.

No one was entirely ready to go back to the grindstone, although a part of all of us craves the routine of normal. There was sighing and gnashing of teeth as each of us set our alarms for the beginning of a new work and school year.

And so we began our very light start back to business. We intended to only worry about: our maths, which always takes forever to get into the swing of; Bible, because what’s a day if it’s not started off on the right foot; and Health, the elective no one cares about but is a pesky requirement covered in a, let’s be honest, dreary manner.

Math was a little rocky on day 1 after such a long break, we really did have the best of intentions to be about it over the summer holidays, but we were kept on our toes with Nana’s needs & we also needed that space to simply rest. I have one who slipped back in quite easily without having forgotten much, & another who struggled a bit so we slid him into half lessons as his brain stretches and strengthens.

Bible was a bit of an interesting thing for us. We are use to, in years gone by, having a Bible Reading Plan provided for us, but for many reasons which will be explained in a very thorough upcoming review, we are no longer using the Sonlight Curriculum. I ended up digging out an older Bible Plan in which a student/family can read the Bible through in 180 days, as in a school year, to get us through the week. While we enjoyed it, I think the pace is a bit full-on and then remembered on oh, you know, Saturday, what my origional Bible plans were. Come on, admit it you’ve had weeks like that too! Fear not, I’ve slipped those plans into action for next week and you’ll learn about them then.

Health was alright. I really expected one of mine to be a tad fussy about this, although we’ve had multiple long chats about high school requirements and how some you’re stuck with and some you get to pick and choose so he was well briefed on what to expect. The only issue he ended up happening was that I asked him to answer a health question before 11am. You heard that snort, right?

The health is scheduled in an interesting manner with HOD, which really means a manner that seems odd to us, but then keep in mind we weren’t reading history this week so we may feel different once we get into the full swing of things. Either way, we ended up reading three days worth in one day, so on Thursday when the kids crowded in with pets and smoothies and quilts we listened to our Bible reading and then I announced that aside from math I didn’t have anything else for them that day and suggested we dig into our Art History Curriculum.

My resident artist is so very excited about this curriculum he was REALLY gung-ho to jump in with both feet. Okay, so I’m not going to lie. When I told him this curriculum was on tabs this year he had a long list of artists he hoped were covered {they aren’t all}, and when it arrived I had to pry it from his hands so I could actually verify if it was all accounted for. So, despite the fact that the younger was all for a super short day {as if our days weren’t already short this week!} I vetoed and we watched the first lesson.

It has a slight “older” feel to it, but we really did enjoy it! We also have the Art Notebooking Pages from HOD, but I only purchased one set for my kids as I suspected the resident artist would enjoy them more than the non-artist. Having said that, the questions on them really do lend themselves to great discussions in which both boys took their turns stating their opinions and their reasonings for it, querying the other on aspects they wondered “why” about, and then came up with an answer they were both happy with to write down on the page.

Friday they just tackled math, and then we headed to the library, much later than intended, where they collected holds and other goodies while I hid on the second level and worked on one of my writing projects before making a mad dash to collect Mr S who got out of work early!

Saturday we wrapped up our week with a bit of fun at the beach to beat the insane heat that was making us all feel a lot like wilted lettuce. That water was REALLY cold though, and because the tide was in and just starting to turn it was also very calm. So we played a few crazy silly games all concocted by our youngest before we clambered out and watched a family of black swans make their way ashore while Mr S tried to capture them on film.

Making Our Curriculum Work

Every year when we get curriculum I spend way to much time fussing and bothering over how to make it work the way it came to me. I tend to over listen to the many who like to keep their curriculum in pristine condition for maximum resale value, which I totally understand, but I find that by focusing on resale I don’t get my own value out of it.

HOD is one such curriculum. The guides come bound up as neat little books that sit very nicely on your shelf. It’s a lovely feature to them, especially if you use every aspect of the curriculum, but we don’t. And that means that I won’t find all the details in my guide for everything we need to accomplish in a week.  I found myself really fumbling last year because of that issue, and it drove me absolutely insane. I’m not a fly by the seat of your pants kinda homeschooler. I’m the, plan it out. line it up, put it on the calendar, accomplish it kinda homeschooler.

This year, I spent a few days arguing with myself about cutting up a book that cost me $140 AUD, but in the end I was reminded that curriculum is meant to work for you, and if it doesn’t then it’s not worth purchasing or using. So, I pulled our HOD guide apart, the whole time hoping I didn’t regret it and reminding myself that the worst case scenario was that I could make a trip into the city to get it bound up if I needed to. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, and I suppose the real test will be in the coming year as I put my plan into action.
See, I bought our school planner unbound and used the DISC system on it to bind it up intentionally so that I could add our weekly HOD plans in there as well. HOD plans have a lot in them and it’s more than just reading the book and following great discussions. There’s notebooking, videos, and more to indulge in over the course of the week, and it’s far too much to rewrite in the planner even if I wanted to, which I don’t. After all, the reason I purchased pre-planned curriculum is so that I don’t have to spend my entire year planning what to do next.
After carefully getting all the pages out of the binder and trimming just a pinch off to get rid of the glue and semi-ragged edge I hole punched them. Did you know that Australian hole punches aren’t the same size as US ones? Yep, that’s because our paper is taller, so I had to line up the papers in my punch evenly and then snagged a gold marker to make a line so I knew where to align the bottom of each page. It worked well despite the incredibly crooked line I’ve drawn. 
The results are 35 weeks of school punched and ready for use, and the plan is to pull a few weeks out at a time and slip them in the page protectors that fit in my planner so that I can see the finer details of what we’re doing along with the non-HOD subjects that we’re doing. The idea is to have everything I need in one place at one time instead of juggling it around. Funny thing is I may need to grab pages from another HOD guide because we’re looking at doing the Bible from WG, oh the insanity! 

Back To School 2018

Next Monday it’s time to dig back into our books as we get back into the routine & rhythm of school. We had a mad dash flurry of purchasing books & curriculum at the end of last year in hopes of getting it all to us prior to the annual post office closure that happens here in December & lasts through January. 
We almost made it, but not quite & found ourself stalking the postie when mail was up & running again, groaning about an additional closure, & then nearly bowling the poor fellow over to procure our final books.

We haven’t really changed much, one is sticking with his beloved Sonlight & the other with his beloved HOD. We’ll  share our choices, which are always subject to change at any time:


Jayden 8th Grade:

Our goal this year with Jayde is to continue working with him to help him be an independent learner, so there are aspects of this he will work solo on & I will attempt not to hover too much. We are VERY excited about his science this year. Last year’s scheduled science was very enjoyable, & such a delight with the meteor showers, eclipses, & so forth, but admittedly it lacked the experiment wow that we’d have liked. I have to admit I was very nervous about this science, remember science is not my strong suit, but when it arrived & we opened up the box with all the beautifully labeled & packaged experiments my boy’s face lit up with excitement.

The only concern I have with this plan, other than the step up in work for our boy, is our IEW SWIB. HOD is well scheduled, & that includes LA but we live what we’ve been using & have opted not to switch to what they use. Having said that, with this level they only scheduled writing once per week as students do a fair amount of writing with research, written narrations, notebooking, etc. This is why I have included dictation this year. We will do the dictation as scheduled & leave the SWI for our 10th academic week per term & have very literal writing intensive weeks.. unless, of course, plans utterly change.

Morgan 10th Grade:

Morgan is very excited to be using Core 200, this wasn’t a level I was sure we’d get to, but he was very excited about it so here we are. Admittedly, the literature for this level is pretty amazing & I think of it as very classic or even British Lit. It will likely go on his transcript as the later. I’ve opted to pull out our Drive-Thru DVDs to have him watch an episode or two each week, he really loved when we pulled out BBC documentaries with Core H, & was dissapointed I didn’t have any on hand for him with Core 100. It’s been a while since we’ve watched these so I thought they might fit the bill, & if nothing else it’s always so fun to see where we are learning about. I’ve debated picking up the Drive-Thru Ancients DVDs, but they are a tad dear so for now we’ll stick with the ones we already own.
He’ll continue with Logic where we left off last year, so he’ll have a little bit of Fallacy Detective to go & then jump right into The Thinking Toolbox before wrapping up with The Art of Argument. We’ve purchased the lecture DVDs for AOA for him to use. He really enjoyed listening to his science with the audio lectures & taking gobs of notes so I thought this might work down the same line.

Science was rearranged a bit for him. His 4 year plan had him with Chemistry for 10th, but due to an error on my behalf with ordering 3 of the same math books {& none of them right!!} he’s a bit farther behind in math that intended. {Can you all say Mom guilt!!} Rather then being upset about it he just slipped biology up a year & postponed his plans for Chemistry.  I love this kid!

French will simply continue forward. He’s really enjoying the journey with his choice in languages. Over the summer holidays we watched the latest “live” Beauty & The Beast & our French was well enough to know what was being said when spoken, but it also meant we knew when the wrong accents were being used. We had ourselves a lovely giggle about it. His end goal is being able to read, without using the dictionary, a Tintin book in it’s origional language. 

I’m not sure yet if he’ll do the SWI as scheduled or just join Jayde for a literal intensive week on our 10th academic week of each term. It may depend on how heavy his schedule is with all that he will have going on and his own preference. I’d like to see him wrap up the SWI & move into a continuation course to be sure we’ve covered all ground needed. Yes, I’m probably worrying for nought considering how well he applied all that he learned to his papers last year, but it’s my job to worry, right?

Don’t you just love his planner? I expected his work load to be increasingly heavy as he moved along & when our umbrella school shared that photo with verse I saved it for the front of his planner. It’s actually much lovelier in person, but you’ll have to take my word for it as I don’t have any better photo to share at the moment.

Week In Review 17/18: Week 3

We wrapped up our 3rd week of the year on Thursday. It was a slightly disheveled week as we were only in need of finishing up work from the week prior that we’d not accomplished yet. I always feel a little lopsided when that happens, but it really does even out eventually & doesn’t really have any bearing on a good or bad school year either. I think it’s that typical preference for things to be even & well balanced that I have.

The awaited parcel of school supplies & other goodies arrived bright & early Tuesday morning. We were still in the middle of our breakfast routine when it arrived. Beautiful timing really as it meant no waiting around wondering if we should move on with other subjects while we awaited it’s arrival.

It contained Morgan’s science & literature curriculum & we’d hoped it would arrive in good enough speed to start that very day. So much so that after we finished mixed up our smoothies we took the books into the school room to dig into them.

I was a little nervous with the literature as I’d heard a lot of negative reviews, for varying reasons, about it. We, however, very much enjoyed our first lesson, which was actually the first 2 lessons, as scheduled in our guide, together. Basically he’ll read a story a day & then have some questions after to answer. He did the rest of the literature that week on his own meeting up with me afterwards to discuss the answers to the questions. He also gave me the lowdown on the stories he’d read too.

We tried out his new Bible Curriculum which is a bit different than the Inductive Studies we’ve previously done. Each new lesson {spread over 5 days} introduces a new people group to pray for which is lovely & reminds us fondly of our year with Children Around The World when we spent much time in prayer for other nations around the world as well as those brave enough to go minister & protect them.

The study itself was where there was some hesitation, our boy felt that some of the questions didn’t fully match up with the value of the verse that was being read. I suspect it was a content issue, as with our previous studies you often back up a bit & read previous verses to get a grasp of the full picture. On the other hand it could also have just been that he was worried about answering wrong, which is odd because that’s not been a concern for him before in his other studies.

Either way we sat down to discuss the situation & decide what he wanted to do. I don’t want Bible Study to be something he stresses over “getting right” as much as I want to be something he enjoys doing as he searches for what God has to share with him. In the end we decided to lay it aside for the moment & pull out an inductive study. I actually stocked up on a fair amount of the D4Y studies that we didn’t own or that he had done but his younger brother hadn’t.

I knew the studies would be below him, but figured they would still have value & while I do agree with that I felt led to look for something meatier for him but down the same path of familiar study. Our Precept shop in Australia is currently closed until the 14th of next month so I checked out the USA shop & found a series of studies that look more appropriate for his age level. I was more than a little appalled at the international shipping but got rather excited to discover I can obtain them from Book Depository for $0 shipping & no wait time on them to be printed. We’re pretty excited about them, there are ample samples to get you started on the Precept ministries page if you are interested, & before I’m asked I am not purchasing the teacher keys. Check through the sample to see if you’d need it.

He had two video segments to watch on Egypt which were both quite interesting. One was based on a the idea that a portable wheel was how the bricks for the pyramids were moved not sleds, & the same segment argued that they didn’t believe slave labour was used in the making of the pyramids, or at least the one they were currently digging in. The second segment argued that slaves were used, specifically Hebrew, & gave us a bit of a tour of Egypt.

He also wrapped up his lovely notebooking pages for the week, all though now that I’m looking at them I see he didn’t label the Pyramid drawing he did. The drawing is based on the clip with the “wheel” in the DVD we watched.

Jayden also wrapped up his week. He had some science to catch-up on, as well as a full day’s worth of work in his HOD level. We’re not feeling as much love with the science right now, but I suspect it’s because we’ve already read  A Child’s Geography. I’ve opted to use it again because it was a few years ago & I wasn’t entirely sure how much of it he remembered.

We read about Ivan The Great in his history this week. He also had a written narration to do based on that reading which was his only outstanding notebooking assignment. We also caught up in his read aloud Ink On His Fingers, which has been quite an enjoyable read thus far.

We ended up skipping Shakespeare this week, I generally read it aloud to him while he works on the notebooking segment for the reading. Due to our term break we saved the first half of the story to read all in one go this week, but this chest infection I’ve been dealing with was really killing me this week. Lots of irritating coughing while I was trying to read. Afterwards some fellow HOD users shared that our Shakespeare book is available in audio from Librovox!

They both continued working on their math, but due to the lovely cough & wheezing I was sporting I didn’t review their IEW & have them move forward. Hopefully we’ll tackle that next week because our white board is full of notes from the last lesson we left off with!

We’re still working away with our current read aloud, & Bible readings. We selected a new batch of vocabulary words to get ourselves rolling with. the pictures for some of the words this time are downright hilarious. Mind you, I think the pictures make these vocabulary cards to some degree because it helps you visualise the definition. We squeezed in a trip to our local library too as we had books due, but no outing this week as I didn’t think it would be appropriate to share my cough with others.

It was nice to finish everything up & be ready to start fresh come Monday morning. Hopefully my cough will have officially hit the road, because I can’t imagine how annoying it must be listening to me read aloud to kids while I’m hacking every two seconds!