Monday, January 12, 2015

Fall Term 2014

Well, we finished up the third term of Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation, and Epistles right at the end of 2014 and did our exams in the first week on 2015. It's impressive just how much our kids are able to retain after weeks of information are crammed into their little heads.

We spent the majority of the term on Martin Luther and William Tyndale and their struggles to get the Bible printed in the common languages of their respective homelands. It's staggering the persecution that these men, along with many others like Zwingli, Calvin and Knox, faced just for wanting the common folk to be able to read God's Word. It's because they chose to stand firm and face death that we are a able to hold our own Bible in our hands every day without fear. For resources, we read Thunderstorm in the Church, which was about Luther's trials and tribulations from the point of view of his son. Then we read The Bible Smuggler, which was about William Tyndale and told from the perspective of his young assistant. Both books were written by Louise Vernon and really brought the work of these two great men to life for the kids. We also added a third Louise Vernon book, The Night Preacher, which was about Menno Simons and the start of the Anabaptist  movement.

For math, Olivia switched back to Life of Fred and did Honey, Ice Cream and Jelly Beans before continuing with Book 4 of  Queen Homeschooling's Math Lessons for a Living Education. Personally, while she liked the LoF books, I felt like she lost a little ground with her basic math facts that she had been doing with the Kumon books, particularly when it came to long division. As a result of this, we decided to have her do some math drill sheets to improve her retention of math facts. It has been helping quite a bit. I think she needs that kind of repetition to help her retain the information.

For Science, Olivia started on the Human Body. We did it just over a year ago, but she enjoyed it so much and wanted to do a more in-depth study. We are doing this with two curricula, Queen Homeschooling's Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and Apologia's Exploring Creation. What we did was let Olivia do a lesson in the Queen's book, which lays a strong foundation in a CM/storybook format and gets her interested and excited about the subject. Queen's has her doing research to find things like the names of bones, muscles and organs or figure out how a muscle contracts and write a small paragraph on it. She usually has to draw whichever body system she's focusing on. Then she moves to the corresponding chapters in Apologia for a more textbook-ish, fact-filled lesson. Apologia's book has "Try This!" sections throughout the lessons that often have different quick experiments that she can try on her own and the end of each lesson has one or two larger experiments that we will help her with, if she needs it. Occasionally some of the smaller experiments are duplicated, but there is always enough variety that we will just skip the duplicated ones in the Apologia book. This is a subject that Olivia has successfully become largely self-directed in. We will help her access the internet to research topics and check her work, but for the most part, she will read, research and complete assignments independently.

A brain with the different regions in different colors.

 A nerve cell

 Olivia made a clay figure, but it was too soft to stand.
 She then put toothpicks in its body like a skeleton and it could stand fine. :)

For the Bible, we read through 2 Corinthians. It was a difficult book to read with the kids because Paul uses a surprising amount of sarcasm and hyperbole when telling the believers in Corinth that they're foolish for believing false teachings when they've already heard the Truth from him. Apparently the people listened and believed Paul, who asked and took nothing from them while he was there, but then they inexplicably paid other men who claimed to have the real gospel when it was really false. While most of the content was went over the boys' heads, Olivia did grasp that Paul was telling them "that they shouldn't be so easily fooled by people who look smart."

In Geography, Olivia has mastered the map of Europe and is nearly perfect in remembering the countries of Asia. It's been pretty cool seeing her work to memorize the names and locations of all the tiny middle-European nations.  Olivia's main focus in exploration was Balboa, who discovered the Pacific, and Magellan, whose expedition was the first to circumnavigate the Earth.

Gabe is moving up in his schoolwork, finishing Book 1 of Queen's Math Lessons for a Living Education. He's picked up pretty quickly on telling time and skip counting, though he did have a little trouble grasping place values. Queen's uses a "Place Value Village" (which we talked about here) and it seemed like his head and mouth were getting ahead of his hands and so he would get confused.We had to go over it with him and get him to slow down and think about what he was doing before he finally grasped the concept.  In his reading, he's really come a long way. He's not the fastest reader, but he's much more confident and has taken to actually reading for fun and not just flipping through looking at pictures. I've found that if we give him a break from the proscribed reader and let him choose a suitably difficult book on his own, he attacks it with gusto and does very well. now that he's putting sentences together consistently, he's starting to have much better comprehension and enjoying the books more. There have been a few times that he's asked to continue so he can find out what's going to happen next! :)

Ezra has started his own reading curriculum, Simple Charlotte Mason's Delightful Reading. We have started out doing letter families. He knows the sounds each letter makes so we take a simple word ending like -et and have him place each letter of the alphabet in front of it and determine what are real words like bet, get, jet, let, pet, and set. We've been doing it 5 days a week and changing the vowel associated with the last letter (-at, -et, -it, -ot, -ut). Some days he's gung-ho about it and others you would think we'd asked him to cut off a toe. He can be rather dramatic at times, like someone we know...

We have continued in our breakfast routine of reading part of the Torah portion, some poetry, a chapter from a read-aloud book and our memory verses. Recently, Irene "helped" me reshuffle our verses in the box and as I picked them all up off the floor, I counted 125 verses/portions that the kids have memorized, including the whole of Genesis 1:1-2:3 and 1 Corinthians 13! Even Emma chimes in most days and is able to recite along with the older kids. For a read-aloud, we have been going through the Thornton Burgess books, this time doing The Adventures of Happy Jack and The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel. The kids have absolutely loved these books, but sadly these are the last ones in our box set. However, we're going to be starting The Trumpet of the Swan next, which is one none of us has read, so we're very excited.

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