The Land of All Things Lewis

When I see birches bend to left and right…I like to think some boy's been swinging from them. -Robert Frost

School is like a zoo…

but for children.

This is what my 11 year old son told me today.  He was sitting at the table. I was sitting on the couch with my laptop.  The other boys were outside on the sidewalk.  It runs along the side of the kitchen. They had the kitchen door open.  At very specific times of the day we hear loud children, screeching little girls especially.  It was funny at first.  But, somedays it’s disturbing.  But, it took my sons comment to make me see why.

He told me they make them sit all day and do tricks.  Then they let them out of that box.  Then the children go crazy for a wild.  (For the record this child has attended public school.)

At least they still get recess.

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Bird Unit

We are using Apologia Zoology and we on the first unit which is Birds. You don’t really need these book as a spine though. My Aunt (the Scientist) purchased these as a request from us. They are Charlotte Mason style Science books. Essentially they are written like a story. There are a lot of opportunities for reviews questions and notebooking. Vocabulary words are in bold throughout the text if that is important to you. If I could get my son to write more I would probably created a vocabulary book or something along that lines. But, I’ll take what I can get. Apologia offers free notebook pages, so we are going to use some of those plus other stuff we find on the internet. I like that we can just read the book and move on that week if need be. As the boys get older and are demanding more information I’m finding it nice to have spines for learning.

You could simply use books from the library and crated your own unit.

State Bird/State Map Coloring Pages

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Yiddish, a busy life

http://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/+10015 is a rather interesting project. I’m taking an English class on Modern Jewish Literature. Yiddish comes up quite often (as it should) and it’s rather interesting to see the connection between Yiddish and German. German would be the language I’m studying and enjoying.

I’ve been busy. I’m not gone forever. My plans are to slow down next quarter. So, you will hear from me quite a bit more. I’m half way through my quarter now and it’s finally going better. It tends to go that way for me. I get all worked up and then I start to get in the groove and see that all is going to be well.

The boys are doing well in their classes.

Our first child is two smart for his own good. He has curriculum that he is supposed to follow but for all purposes it doesn’t really matter. He soaks up any information he is around. So, he just keeps plugging away at Math U See. He should be all caught up this summer (He took a break from Math U See when he went to school. It created quite a misshap with Math as they were using some kind of new program that not even the teachers understood totally.)

Our second boy has started guitar lessons and he couldn’t be more delighted. The boy is so very talented. How could he possibly be my little man.

Our third and youngest little man is learning his letters without much help from his parents. He likes to cut letters out or shape odd pieces of materials into shapes and then tell us or ask us what they are. He picked out some worksheets from around the house to create his own weekly folder just so he can have schoolwork, too. As much as we worried about him never being capable of speech, I have to say it’s working out just fine. His speech is improving and I fully expect him to read in the next year or so. In fact, I think he will probably read before he can speak clearly. We took this year off from Speech Therapy to see how he would do. He is doing well enough that we don’t feel he has need for further therapy at this point.

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Busy, German, accomplishments…

So, we have been busy.

I’m enjoying school. I’m very happy I choice German to study. I’m planning on moving to one class per quarter in the spring. I plan on that being German for at least 3 more semesters. Its a lot of homework. Our teacher doesn’t really give a lot of homework, but it is a lot of studying.

I meet my dh mid-morning to exchange the boys and get them to their classes (unless they are already there). Their program is on the same bus line as the one I take to and from school. It works well.

The Prophet is ready to leave behind quite a few classes. While the Peacemaker is hoping to take guitar lessons. All in all they have been doing really well their plans for this quarter. I feel like we are figuring out a way to balance the accountability of their program and unschooling. I much happier being child led. But, we have posted some written plans to keep everyone on track. My boys seem to get bummed when they figure out a few months later they still haven’t accomplished something they wanted to work on. There have been times when we have been really busy that months go by and suddenly a child finds a kit in the closet or some books at the bookstore and remember how much they wanted to do that very thing.

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Worrying about writing…

Just when I was worrying I ventured upon Miranda’s post on writing.  I feel that way, too. I think I’m projecting my worries on whether or not to continue to major in English on my 10 year old son.  Wait I’m projecting on my son, my worries.  My worries are being projected… or maybe that’s projectiled…which is how I feel when thinking about changing my mind.

I’m taking a beginning linguistics class focusing on grammar this upcoming quarter, just in case.  Just in case I want to stop feeling like such a dope when a professor mentions a high and mighty grammatical error.  I diagrammed hundreds of sentences growing up.  I should be able to play silly sentences with my child without telling him to make sure he picks one of those “green words.” (BTW, we have outgrown this game now and we are going to make up our own.  I figure we can print on colored paper or just outline the borders in a color for each part of speech.  And, perhaps I’ll improve my parts of speech knowledge along with them.)

It’s just that I don’t get a lot of comments about my lack of proper grammar.  Either they don’t notice or I’ve dazzled them with my superior abilities to keep the reader holding on for every last….

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December is almost done…

We have one more week of “school” till January.  It’s been a good experience.  I’m happy with it.  The boys are happy with it.  The Peacemaker is especially happy with it.  He enjoys socializing.  He enjoys getting his hands into wet clay and the encouragement to be even louder in Martial Arts.

Next month The Prophet and The Peacemaker will be a year older.  I’m not prepared.  I  can’t believe I’ll be the mother to 11 and 8 year old boys.

I worry about them growing older.  I’m trying to figure out how to meld a relaxed lifestyle with goals and objectives.  Yes, we use curriculum.  But, I’ve yet to find a weekly schedule that suits us.  It works so much better to discuss what we will do for the next few days.  My boys enjoy what curriculums we use.  They helped picked them out. They are intelligent.  They are growing older without me nagging them.  (Of course, I’m not above bribing.)

In a few weeks you won’t see me very often.  I’ll be busy with my school and their school.  I’ll be figuring my way around German, praying that what I heard in utero has laid a path through my brain.

My little Warrior is snuggling at my side tonight.  He sees words and letters now and realizes they are something you read.  I don’t when he did that.  Sometimes we play Starfall…he calls it the Apple game.  He has some of those fridge letters that sing songs.  But, tonight he sees these words and realizes they are something special.  We didn’t make a lesson.  I didn’t point it out.  He understands and I understand how very special these little moments are.

The rest of the men are watching silent movies (on DVD).  I heard the Artist (their father that is)  say it’s annoying to watch a silent film about people talking on the phone.  These little men and one big man who normally cannot sit still are enchanted and quiet watching silent movies in black and white after a candle lit dinner of roasted red pepper soup, bagged salad, hot chicken wings, corn-dogs, grilled cheese, tuna salad…no we didn’t all eat all of that.  It was one of the nights of the many dinners.

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Around the World in 80 Days

We just started reading this book. My oldest really wants to do some more fun activities, so I’m going to make a mini-unit study on it. Then we can turn it into a notebook to show at his next progress meeting.

We are using The Whole Story Series edition. I love these books.

Here are the ideas, so far. I would love some input and more suggestions please, please, please.

1. Make a compass (Take pictures, include captions, and make a perty page about it. I might include a lab sheet as well. Basically you list the supplies and such. Then you list what you think will happen. And, finally what really happened.)
2. Track the route on a map
3. Discuss Time Zones and do some kind of map when it comes up
4. Study any people that come up along the way. The Whole Story books have information in the margins about historical figures and such.
5. I reserved the older version of the movie from the library
6. Figure out the cost of the trip today and how long it will take. I was thinking perhaps we could use one of the trip planner things for tickets and such. This might be a bit much though.
7. Report on Jules Verne. Something like a picture on the top of the page and a few sentences about him on the bottom.
8. Here is a cool online travel journal at Global Trek travel journal.

9.  I got a reply from a fellow homeschool mom who will be using Around the World…, but her link isn’t quite right.  So, is what she is working on including the rules to whist.

Here are some more directions for Whist.

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Snow starts our December

We started our first day of December with snow.  It’s still here today albeit the drizzle of freezing rain is doing it’s best to clear it away.

We went for a walk to the store for hot chocolate.  It started Merry enough, but with three boys and a dog there were a few tears shed and a vicious snowball fight in the middle of the  doorway  of our market.

A realization came about this previous two weeks.  I’m not sure if I shared yet, but I know firmly believe there can be too many worksheets.  Gasp…I mean didn’t you know this about me already.  But, I guess somewhere in my wee little mama mind I really hoped this would be the year my sweet children would wake up with a love of workbooks and worksheets and order.  But, alas  I need to step back.  Curriculum in this house has to have an open ended componaent.

Take Math U See for example.  This works well for us and the boys balk at all other curriculums.  We can work for Mastery with this program.  We do not need to do all six pages of student work.  It doesn’t take an hour to explain the lessons.  It works!

And, I am overwhelmed. We have to do lessons together or I’m going to explode.

So, two steps forward and two steps back.

More Charlotte Mason.

Less Worry.

More together.

More reading.  We have been really lax with reading here.  I miss our snuggly reading and discussions.  Our reading times together have always been so good for our minds and hearts.  They fuel learning in unexpected ways.  So, somehow they have to come back.

We returned almost all of the library books we had and picked up a fresh new stack.  One liberated of lessons or instructions.  Just different topics and new authors…and some old beloved ones too.

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May I have your attention…this is a weekly update

Yes, I knew I would slack on this. But, I did put some effort into it. School has been keeping us busy or maybe it’s just life.

Life Sans Gluten

I’ve been focusing my spare energy on learning to cook and shop in a different fashion. I’m enjoying the energy and the weightloss! My boys seem to be responding as well. I just need to work on stocking our freezer with frozen GF pizzas. They love pizza. I’m really hoping I can start freezing some easy things. I didn’t realize how much I don’t like cooking anymore. I just get so busy and it always seems to take so long.

I’m trying to remember why it was so hard last time we tried this. I think it was because the boys were in public school and they thought eating school lunch was such a treat. And, the donuts my dh would hide in the garage.

But, as my dh was getting a snack for The Warrior he informed me I needed to get some rice crackers or something. Luckily I had bought some crackers for Thanksgiving. I had bought crackers, babaganoush, and beer to take with me. I hate missing cracker and dip time. I hate missing beer/wine time, too. I can’t have wine. It always makes me sick. So, beer it is. I chose the hazelnut crackers. They weren’t bad. Actually, they are like the little asian crackers you can buy. So, the texture threw me off a bit. But, they worked well.

For the Love of Mac

My sweet friend the iBook is getting ready for convalesence. My right shift key is broken and that is the one I use the most. Logically I can see why it broke, but still. The screen blacks out if it is placed in the wrong position. I don’t think it would be wise to put more money in it. But, I don’t know if I can afford another Mac at the moment. The horror. We have a PC in the house, but only because someone gave it to the boys to play with. I can’t imagine spending money on it.

New Classes

The boys are all signed up for their new quarter classes. The Prophet has added a Sports class into his schedule. We are amazed! I thought he was allergic to exercise. He is, also, doing a Lego Robotics class where they learn how to build and program little robot vehicles. He still has Chess and Martial Arts. In fact, he just got his uniform and he looks so handsome. The Peacemaker has added Pottery and Chess. They have a real artist, kiln, and wheels! It’s really exciting. He still has Science and Martial Arts. I’m happy we live close because we are there every day of the week this quarter. The families who are there every day and live farther away bring food and school work. As cool as it is that they can all be together for school, I’m too much of a homebody. I couldn’t spend my whole week there. I would go nuts. I need some PJ time ya know.

Singapore Math

My oldest is finally ready to get moving up in Math. I don’t have the money for a new level of Math U See right now. Although, it’s not expensive at all. I’ve used all the levels for both children so far. I don’t think you can beat that. We are going to give Singapore a try this quarter for him. I’m hoping it doesn’t mess up all the work we have gone through. I feel bad how many Math programs he has been through at this point. But, he isn’t using the Math U See DVD at this point anyhow. So, I thought it probably wouldn’t matter until we get him up to Grade level.  The point is I can check out Singapore for free from our school library and since he doesn’t seem to need the DVD’s right now then it should be fine.

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