Friday, November 20, 2015

Fall Term 2015

This term, the focus was on a very exciting part of history: the time period from just before the American Revolution to just after the War of 1812. We covered both world history and American history.  For American history, we started with what led up to the Revolutionary War; things like the Stamp Act and the Tea Tax. Once the War began, we read several books about the War and the people who fought both on the battlefield and in the government. We read George vs George, Toliver's Secret, A Young Patriot, and Benjamin Franklin. They gave a great deal of insight into all facets of how the War was fought and won. Olivia has also been reading George Washington's World and Amos Fortune. For World history, we covered events like the French Revolution and the rise and fall of Napoleon along with the view of the American Revolution and it's aftermath from the European point-of-view. We read The Story of Napoleon, which was a very interesting account of his entire life, from childhood to exile.

For Science, Olivia has been doing A Nature Walk with Aunt Bessie from Queen's Homeschool. It's been a really interesting adventure with a varied array of topics from:

 spiders (ew!)
 to moles (this is a clay model of a mole's tunnel)
to earthworms
 and sparrows. (a nest we found at Grandma and Grandpa's)

For Math, Olivia finished Book 4 of Math Lessons for a Living Education and changed over to Life of Fred to do Kidney, Liver, and Mineshaft. This time, she is handling the transition pretty well and learning some pretty interesting concepts like dealing with super-large numbers (turning billions and trillions into factors of 10). She doesn't seem to be having difficulty retaining the basics like she did on other occasions when we've switched. 

Gabe finished Book 2 of Math Lessons for a Living Education and so we decided to jump over and have him start Life of Fred - Apples. Both he and Ezra have been doing it together and are really enjoying the story. We have Ezra answer the questions orally while Gabe writes them out for practice. 

In Language Arts, Olivia has continued doing Intermediate Language Lessons. Gabe finished Language Lessons for Little Ones. Both Olivia and Gabe are doing daily copywork to practice their handwriting, Gabe focusing solely on printing while Olivia does both print and cursive. I personally struggle a little bit with being a perfectionist and expecting too much from them, but I am trying to impress upon them just how important good handwriting is, even in a world growing more and more reliant upon electronic communication. On that front, we've also started both of them on typing lessons through Olivia has progressed pretty fast and far in it, though once she hit a major milestone test and it took her 31 tries to finish it within the 50 seconds she was given. The point is that she did eventually get fast enough to pass it. Gabe is moving a little slower, but he still really likes it and I'm sure he will benefit from starting early.

Ezra has been working hard on his Rod and Staff preschool books, having finished Finding the Answers and moving on to Going on Eagerly. The exercises are challenging enough to keep him interested and feel excited about completing them without being so hard that he gives up in frustration. If I had any doubts about him being in the right book, they were dispelled when I accidentally started him on the Hearing and Helping Book, which is more advanced and clearly was too much for him right now. For Ezra's reading, we have been doing some sight word memorization, some word families and reading Bob books. After a frustrating start for him, he seems to be finally getting the hang of it and enjoying it.

Olivia is still voraciously reading books often taking a day or less to read a 100+ page book. Gabe has finally grown comfortable with his reading and does very well reading his Nature Reader every day. We've even found him reading for fun in his room, which is so encouraging after his early struggles with it.

Geography was a continuation and the completion of Joshua Slocum's solo journey around the world. He managed to complete his journey in 3 years, 2 months and 2 days after sailing alone for more than 46,000 miles!

As a family, we've been reading the Ralph Moody series of books together at the table. We've now finished the first two, Little Britches and Man of the Family. We will take a break from the series to read the second All of a Kind Family book, which is about a Jewish family living in New York City in the early 20th century. We loved the first book and the second is just as great!

For our Bible study, Olivia is doing Apologia's Who Am I and really enjoying it. It covers a lot of the "why are we here" questions that she's been having over the past year and does some very interesting compare-and-contrast work with other religions/belief systems. At the table, we're reading chapters  from our weekly Torah portion and doing FFOZ's Children's Torah Club workbooks. They really reinforce what they've heard in each portion and help them, in a fun way, to connect with the lessons God is teaching us through His word.

Outside the regular schoolwork, we'd been doing some nature study things on our own. We looked at mushrooms one day when we had a bunch growing in the yard.

Sadly, we missed a chance to see the spores on the ground because of rain, but they still got to examine a big one up close.
When we went for a walk a few days later, we found a whole line of mushrooms growing over a root.
We also looked at deciduous and evergreen trees. Since it's fall, it's easy to identify the two, so I gave them an assignment: find 3 different kinds of deciduous trees.

They spotted an oak.
and a pine (no, not deciduous, but big and obvious nonetheless)
And then we found maples.  unfortunately, we were too late for the beeches. The leaves were already gone from them.
There are lots of maples in our neighborhood.
 We found Silver Maples, Sugar Maples, and Hard Maples
We brought home leaves to do rubbings.

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