Monday, 28 February 2011

Book Sharing Monday :: The Crow

The Crow is the first picture book by Alison Paul. We all thought this picture book was fun!  It's the story of a little boy (or is it a girl?)  that wakes up one morning and looks outside his window. His/her imagination takes over when he/she sees a crow outside the window. The crow takes the shape of different characters throughout the book.

"I caught him sneaking,
saw him leaping,
this slick robber on the roam.
Tiptoeing on the tip-tops
of the white picket fence
around my home."

If you would like to participate in Book Sharing Monday, include a link to your sharing post below. Happy Reading! 

Friday, 25 February 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Birthday, Science & World War I

This was another short week for us! On Monday, it was Family Day here in Canada. We celebrated by taking the day off from school work and relaxing at home. On Wednesday, Andre turned 12 and we have a tradition of taking birthdays off. My husband always tries to take the day off work too. He did and we had a nice time together.

Andre's cake: Glazed Lemon Cake (super delicious!) 

All that celebrating left us with three days of school! We covered our main subjects (Math and Language Arts) and continued with World Geography, Science, and History. Here is a short recap from those subjects.

In World Geography, we concluded our study of Africa by filling in Country Facts sheets. In these, we write down for each country, its name, the area in sq km, the GNP per capita, the infant mortality rate, the population density, and the type of government. We had gone over what each term meant at the beginning of the year. We have filled in these fact sheets for each continent we have studied so far. We also read another story from the African Tales book.

For Science, we finished the gears section and built a hand-crank theater. It had two pictures, one with a bird, one with a cage. When we rotated the crank, the image blended together. You can see the theatre in the photo below and a little bit of the effect in the short video. It was hard to capture!

Still in Science, we started a new topic: work! In Science, work has a different meaning, and we learned together about work, force, energy and joules, Newton metre (Nm) and watt seconds. Adrienne built a water-powered sawmill and we tested it. We used a bottle of water and poured it onto the angled blades of the water wheel. We changed the height and speed of the water and noticed the differences. 

 In Canadian History, we are learning about World War I. We are still using the Story of Canada book as a spine, but I added a few extra books to read aloud this week. We finished The Great War by Robert Livesey and we'll start soon Brothers Far From Home: The World War I Diary of Eliza Bates from the Dear Canada series. I read a little bit from the Horrible Histories book today. That series is always fun and interesting! The Archie's War book is great, but not really for read aloud, so we're all reading it on our own. I am planning on using this PBS site to review all that we learned about this war, hopefully by the end of next week. I think the animated maps will be very helpful for our review. This site has some more interesting resources, like maps to fill in, quizzes, games, videos and more.  

Today, we listened to Johann Strauss Jr's music. We each filled in a notebook page with a short biography and a list of the music pieces we listened to. We all had different favourites. Andre liked the Blue Danube, Adrienne the Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, and I liked the Radetzky March (each link brings you to a youtube video).

While we were listening to the music, Celeste was sitting right behind us and listening too. When we were finished, she said she was done too. She then showed me what she had been working on. She had copied a part of a little book! She does this kind of copywork often, not because I ask her, just because she wants to...very different from her two older siblings!

Finally, I wanted to start adding an extra part to these wrap-up posts. We love reading here and I talk often about our favourite books, in Book Sharing Monday posts or even in wrap-up posts, but I don't often mention what my kids are reading on their own for fun. So, I thought I would add that to the bottom of my weekly wrap-up posts.

Adrienne is currently reading Catching Fire from the Hunger Games series. Andre is reading Firewing by Kenneth Oppel. I am reading a variety of picture books and also another Rainbow Magic book (Stella the Star Fairy) to Celeste.

If you would like to read more wrap up posts by other homeschoolers, visit the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers blog.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

What works for Andre...

...and what doesn't. This is part two in my series of "what works". You can read what works for Adrienne (who is 13) here.  This time, I am writing about what curriculum is working well and what doesn't for my son Andre who just turned 12 yesterday.

My son is very different in many aspects than Adrienne, but they do rate Math as their top favourite subjects and Teaching Textbooks as their favourite independent curriculum. Andre started only this year with Teaching Textbooks (TT 6). He was using Singapore Math before, and was doing well with it, but didn't particularly like math. Now he enjoys math! I think he really likes that it is on the computer and that the program tells him right away if his answer is correct or not, and if it is incorrect, after giving him a second try, tells him the correct answer and how to get there. There's never any complaining about doing math from Andre now, and that tells me a lot!

Growing with Grammar is another winner when it comes to my son as well. The lessons are short enough and the exercices too. He definetely benefits from not having any distractions in the lesson book and the exercices. Photos or drawings would affect his concentration. Growing with Grammar also reviews previously learned material in every exercice sheet. I am able to see if he is retaining the lessons this way and when he doesn't, we ca go back to the particular lesson and read it again. Growing with Grammar works for him and he actually enjoys doing the diagramming!

The Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Series is another curriculum that has worked really well for Andre. He continues to practice his handwriting every day.

We started Sequential Spelling this year. Andre is at level 1. He isn't a strong speller. He basically writes words as they sound. Sequential Spelling is working slowly, but I am starting to see a small difference. Andre likes that spelling only takes a few minutes every day to do. We will continue with this program next year. I think it needs a few years commitment to see a big difference. 

For writing, we are using Write Source 2000 as a reference/spine and Story Starters for writing assignments. We haven't done a lot this year with these, but Andre participated in NaNoWriMo in November and he also regularly writes narrations for science and history. I think that Write Source 2000 is a good reference for Andre, but so far he hasn't enjoyed the Story Starters assignment very much. I might look elsewhere for writing prompts.

It is a little more difficult to write about what works for Andre but isn't his favourite. Anything to do with "school work" isn't his favourite. He much rather do anything besides lessons and exercices. The way I measure what he likes, after asking him, is how much he whines or complains about it. Yes, I wrote kid whines about school work! The only one he has really complained about this school year is Science. Adrienne also rates this one as her least favourite. This is a subject we do together, so I will write about it more in another post.

This year, for Andre, there isn't any curriculum that is failing for him, which is great! It is nice to have found what works for him. As much as he doesn't like school work, he is the first one to start his independent work every morning and the first to show me what he has done. He needs structure and focus, and our current curriculum choices meet those needs.

Next post will be about Celeste...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Journey North Mystery Class ~ Week Three

Journey North Mystery Class continues!

The journal page this week asked us to reflect on the data and the line graphs. We don't do line graphs, but we do our own version of graphs. Last week, we had seperated the locations between Northern and Southern Hemispheres based on who was gaining daylight, like us in the Northern Hemisphere, and who was losing daylight. This week, we were able to confirm our findings by comparing the photoperiod amounts over the previous two weeks.

The second part of the journal page asked us "how the data and graph lines show us which Mystery Class sites are north and south of your location". We looked at the data sheets a little closer this time. We started with the Northern Hemisphere ones and compared with our home location. Our opinion is that #8 is the only one north of us, but it is very close latitude-wise to us. When we took our tour of the world on our latitude line last week, we selected a few locations and compared their sunrise and sunset data with our own. We noticed that all locations had the same photoperiod amount. The Mystery Class #8 has only a few minutes (less than 5mn) difference with our home location. Even the sunrise and sunset times are very very close. The first week our sunrise was at 7:45 and theirs was 7:46, our sunset was 17:41 and theirs 17:43!! Over the last two weeks, it has stayed very close still. This location could still be on the other side of the world, but at the same latitude as ours! It will be interesting to figure it out.

On the photo at the top of this post, you can see the locations arranged by Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The writing shows which one is which. I should have put the southern below the northern, but I didn't think about it until I was writing this! I added an Equator line at the bottom of the photo and the mystery classes are arranged by what we think is their positions compared to it.  So that means that we think #9 (gold/brown) is in the Southern Hemisphere and closer to the Equator than #3 (yellow). With the group on the right, the Northern Hemisphere, we have added our home location. In that group, #2 (light blue) is closer to the Equator than #8 (grey). These are only our findings, so we might be wrong! The fun part of this project is to try to figure it yourself, also as the weeks go by, I won't share as much information! It is also fun to compare your findings with others, so let me know by leaving a comment if you want to do that! Have fun!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Book Sharing Monday :: Life-Size Aquarium

"Life-Size Aquarium" by Teruyuki Komiya  is a fun and educational book! There are beautiful photographs of 35 different animals that you might find at an aquarium. All the photos are true-to-life, even for the larger animals which show only parts of their bodies. Along the photos are facts such as the scientific name, the approximate age, the home, and more interesting facts on each animal. There is a section for each animal called "time for a close-up" that is similar to i-spy questions.

Here is the introduction from the walrus page:

"Wow! Look at those long tusks! What do you think they are used for? He needs them to help pull his enormous body out of the water and to poke holes in the ice to breathe through while he swims."

And here are a couple sentences from the "time for a close-up" section of the walrus:

"Can you see that this walrus has a pink tongue? The tip is split a little bit.
Can you see that this walrus has two long tusks? These are elongated canine teeth."

There are two other books in this series "Life-Size Zoo" and "More Life-Size Zoo". We will be looking for these at our library!

If you would like to participate in Book Sharing Monday, please add the link to your book sharing post below. Happy Reading!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

What works for Adrienne...

...and what doesn't work for her. I was inspired to write this kind of post by Christina at Rockhound Place. She wrote about what curriculum works for her oldest.
Anytime is a good time to evaluate your curriculum and how it is working for your homeschool. This time of year is usually when I start thinking of the following school year, and it is important for me to evaluate our current curriculum choices.

I will be writing a series of posts, starting with this one "What works for Adrienne", then following with "What works for Andre" and then "What works for Celeste". In each post, I will also write about what works but isn't a favourite of my children and finally what doesn't work. The last post will be about the subjects we do together, again writing about what works and what doesn't. I hope you will enjoy this series.

Adrienne is 13 years old and technically in grade 8, but since we're homeschooling, we don't always follow that exactly.

On top of the list is Math. We are using Teaching Textbooks and this curriculum has been a great choice for Adrienne since we switched over a couple of years ago. I had mistakenly ordered the Algebra 1 for her this fall instead of Pre-Algebra. We decided to give it a try anyway, but after about 30 lessons, it proved to be too much. We took a break and she read a series of books on math. We thought this might help her, but when going back to Algebra 1, she still struggled. I ordered the Pre-Algebra level that she should have had and now she is doing great and loving math again! We skipped the first six units after she successfully completed the tests for those units. When I asked her which was her favourite curriculum that she did independently, she said Teaching Textbooks right away.

The next curriculum that works for her is Growing with Grammar. We have been using this grammar program for a few years. It works because it is clear and complete. Adrienne reads the lesson in her manual and then completes the exercices. I then correct her work and we go over her mistakes together as needed.

I will write more about our "together" subjects in a seperate post, but I have found that this year our Canadian History is also working well with Adrienne. She is more interested in history, maybe because we are concentrating on Canada.  

I also noticed more enthousiasm with her when we do our World Geography.

Now for what works but isn't a favourite of hers. Writing has never been her favourite. There hasn't been one writing curriculum so far that we have tried that she has enjoyed. She is capable of writing, she participated in NaNoWriMo without trouble and writes letters to her penpals regularly. She also narrates for history and science. But I think she still needs a writing curriculum to learn how to write more involved essays, reports and research papers. This year, we are using Jensen's Format Writing. I personally think it works, but she doesn't enjoy it. Because of this, we'll still continue with it, at least for this year.

Finally, here are the choices that are not working as well as we hoped.

L'Art de Lire is a French curriculum by Nallenart. Adrienne and I are both finding that it isn't enough. The workbook pages are not that interesting. The teacher's manual is mostly a repeat of the workbook with the answers filled in. I think we both would prefer a textbook, with a lesson then exercices to practice. I don't need the audio portion since French is my mother tongue, but we do need an outline and lessons to read together.  We will still continue using it for now, but we will be looking for something else for next school year.

Sequential Spelling is a great program, but for Adrienne who is a strong speller, it is not challenging enough at this level and it isn't interesting either. I have very good things to say about this curriculum, but not for her. I think she would do better with a vocabulary or a latin/greek root vocabulary program. We will finish this level and I am searching a few options for next year for this too.  

A really great idea that just didn't take off in our house was the Commonplace book. I truly believe that we need to give this another try. We use narration, oral and written, for many subjects in our homeschool, but not so much for literature. I have noticed that when we do narration for novels or short stories, we do it orally. Adrienne did use her commonplace book a little bit in the fall. She loves to read, but did not enjoy writing down about what she read. As I said, it is something I will want to try again. As a side note, I have been keeping my own commonplace book this year. I noticed that I enjoy keeping notes of non-fiction books, but not novels, so I can relate to Adrienne's feelings.

Next time, I will write about what works for Andre...

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ A Light Week!

This past week was light, school work wise. We took Valentine's Day off and I had a doctor's appointment Thursday morning, so we ended up taking that day off too. It was a good week, here are the highlights:

We took part in a Valentine exchange and received so many wonderful cards! We even received one from Hawaii! I stuck them all to the side of a kitchen cabinet. You can see the cards we sent in this post. The hearts in the upper left corner are the ones we gave each other.

We baked some super yummy cookies for Valentine's Day...Heart Sandwich Cookies.

Adrienne and I have been talking about studying world events and the news more, especially next school year, so we both visited this website this week. We read the article on Egypt and discussed it. I just asked her what she thought about it. We will be slowly getting into doing this and trying different sites until we find one that we are both confortable with.

We are now entering the 20th century in Canadian History. We used the Kingfisher Encyclopedia to review the progress made between the mid 1800s all the way to early 1900s in the arts, architecture, science and technology. We will start learning about World War I next week.

In World Geography, we are still in Africa. Adrienne is determined to memorize all the countries! I read another African tale and they narrated it orally. I recorded them using our iTouch and will be typing their narration.

We also did Art Appreciation on Friday. We haven't done that in a very long time...I hope we get back on track now! We learned about Jacques Louis David . I do this study along with them, so I also wrote a narration for a short biography, listed the paintings we looked at, and selected one to print to add to our page. We keep it simple, and we enjoy it. We read about the artist's life and talk about what we notice in the paintings.

This was a nice week, we had a lot of fun together. We watched movies, played games, had fun at the thrift store and much more.

We finished "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" by Jules Verne. I read that novel aloud and we all really enjoyed it. We are deciding together what the next book will be. It might be Swiss Family Robinson or Peter and the Sword of Mercy or something else!

Adrienne and Andre have been doing great with their running. They are using a couch to 5k app on our treadmill.

If you would like to read more wrap-up posts, you can visit Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Pirates Lapbook by Adrienne

Adrienne completed her lapbook on Pirates last week. I am very happy with her work!
Last month, I had asked Andre and Adrienne to both select a topic and present their research
in either a lapbook or notebook format.
The mini books and set up of the lapbook were all their choices.
Adrienne read a ton of books on pirates
and decided which information to include in her lapbook.

The following photos show you the inside of the lapbook
and details on some of the mini books.
At the end of the post, I added a list of all the mini books included.

Mini books:

Food: What Pirates at and drank
Pirates around the world
Nautical and piratical terms
What is a pirate?
Jobs (on board)
Forms of punishment
Women pirates
Inside a captain's cabin
Famous pirates flags
Famous and infamous pirates
Bucanners, privateers and pirates
Pirate flags by our family (drawings)
Sizes of ships

Here are two more photos to show an overall view of the lapbook.
If you are interested in lapbooks, a wonderful place to start is

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Wordless Wednesday :: Little Green Man

Lego Quest # 34 :: 30 pieces

Adrienne and Andre participated in this Lego Quest. Everyone had to have the exact same amount of legos and the same kind of legos as well. You can see what they had to work with in the photo above. The Lego Quest blog received 75 entries for this challenge!! All the creations are awesome, you can see them all here. Lego Quest is for homeschoolers/unschoolers from all over the world.

Adrienne created a "robot from Saturn. The little lego pieces are flowers. The robot is visiting our earth to destroy it once he finds comrades."

Andre decided to build a city. Here is his description:

"This is a city with a skyscraper in the middle. The building to the left of the tall skyscraper with the green top is a library. The one to the right, with the yellow roof, is recreation centre. The little ones at the front are houses in a small subdivision. The orange building at the far right is a recycling centre. The red building behind the library is a science laboratory. "


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