Saturday, August 31, 2013

September Reading

The books I'm planing to read in September:

For Dea's school (I have agree to read most or all of the books she has to read for English either along with her or shortly before her): Lord of the Flies (she will be reading Life of Pi, but since I just read it earlier this year, I am skipping ahead to her October book)

For Jay's school (he has requested that I read his required reading books like I am doing with Dea's English books, so I agreed to read 2 of his required reading books per month): The Canning Season & Touching Spirit Bear

For Book Clubs: The Demolished Man, The Native Star, Warrior, Here's the Deal:Don't Touch Me

With both kids (for our little book club type thing): Harry Potter series

I'm also rereading the Mercy Thompson series. At this point, I'm not sure what else I'll end up reading, but these are the books to start the month.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Dino Dig T-Rex

One of Jay's Science activities this year was to dig up a T-Rex. He did it a few months ago, but I hadn't posted the pics yet. 

A beautiful day in the cemetery

Today, the kids & I took an impromptu field trip. We spent the afternoon in the cemetery. That might sound strange for a field trip, but we actually really love graveyards. We did some charcoal rubbings & took some photos. We walked around for awhile, looking at the fantastic headstones, crypts, and decorations.

This is my favorite shot from today. It was a lucky shot. The crows kept cawing at us. Every time I turned to look at them, they were in a tree where it was difficult to see them or were on the ground & took off right away. I was lucky enough to catch this one just as he took off.

Here are a few more shots from today:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Clubs

Jay brought up wanting to be in a book club. He wants it to be just him, Dea, and me. That might sound strange & anti-social. It really makes perfect sense, though. Jay doesn't typically read a lot of the books other kids his age are reading. On his 'want to read' list are books like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, 'Salem's Lot, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Jurassic Park, and The Exorcist. (Obviously, not all of the books on his 'want to read' list are appropriate for him, and he will have to wait some years for several of them.)  These are not the books most other 9 year olds are wanting to read. If we were to try to find a book club that was reading more of the books he is interested in, we'd be looking at teen or adult book clubs. That would not be ideal, either. However, if it is just the three of us, we can screen the books selections for appropriateness for him, he'll get to read books more like what he is interested in reading, and there will be no awkwardness in the discussions. So, our tiny little book club starts in September.

This will mean a lot of my reading each month is already planned out. I am part of an online book club, just joined a second, and have been contemplating a third. I have promised Dea that I will read most, if not all of her required books for English, which made Jay jealous. So, now I also will be reading some of his required reading for Language Arts. Then, there is the reading I have to do for the classes I'm taking. Plus, now this new tiny book club with the kids. 

So, each month I will be reading books for 3-4 book clubs (2 of which list 2 books per month), 2 books for Jay's required reading, 1 book for Dea's required reading, an unknown number for classes, and whatever I decide to read for fun. That only comes to 9 books per month, not counting the books for classes & what I read for fun. That shouldn't be too hard.

Oh, the Stupidity!

I have long believed that my city is mostly inhabited by morons. Actually, I once came up with the theory that, many years ago, all the neighboring villages sent their village idiots here to live, and that is how this town was started. My family moved here shortly before I was born, when it was a big manufacturing town, so we are exempt from the stupidity that seems inherent in so many who live here.

Anyway, they have, yet again, proved to have an exceptionally high level of stupidity. Our police department will be doing undercover stings, in a specific neighborhood in town, to cut down on the nasty crack whores who work the area. I know all of this because a local news station just announced it on social media sites.

Who does that?! Isn't the point of undercover for it to be a, what's the word I'm looking for.....oh yeah, surprise?  The only things the story left out were exact dates of the planned stings & photos of the cops involved.

Informing the news stations & having them post the story to the net is the equivalent of posting bulletins warning about the upcoming raid in an old-timey village.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Week 3 HS Term 1

If the way the week starts is an indication of how the whole week will be, we are in for a crappy week. Monday morning starts with the kids arguing. When Dea finally gets around to doing some school, she starts by retaking her Geometry test from last week, because she lost it. Then, we spend the rest of the morning fighting with the computer. We are having some syncing issues with Chrome. After lunch she works on her ASL & then does Accounting.. She does lesson 1 of chapter 7 in Geometry. UC still has not reset her Writing & Government classes, so she can't do those. I do a lesson with both kids on using cluster maps to organize thoughts for writing. I have been doing these with them together because they are new to Jay & good review for Dea. They were each given a map to fill out, with topic of their choice, to be shown to me on Wednesday. She was done with today's school work by 3pm. She was hoping to help her aunt pack to move, but her aunt is busy & will not be packing today.
Dea has an attitude on Tuesday. She is slamming things around, sighing constantly, and talking with a snotty tone. I tell her she can either calm down & do her work or she can go to her room and spend the weekend making up the work she doesn't get done. This weekend is the county fair & she has plans to be there to help at the booth for the animal sanctuary she volunteers at with her dad. Even though the attitude doesn't start until the afternoon, she doesn't get much school done even before that. She is really dragging today, making everything take 5x as long as it actually needs & taking ridiculously long breaks for no reason whatsoever. She spent at least 30 minutes allegedly searching her room for a pencil the cat supposedly stole from her. The pencil was sitting on my bed the whole time, because that is where Dea left it. She does Grammar & eventually finishes a Geometry lesson. She also finally does Accounting. We get Spelling done. She joins Jay & me for a game of Boggle & Poetry Tea.
Wednesday, Dea does some of her schoolwork while I am in bed attempting to rid myself of a headache. She, again, takes many breaks, several of them longer than I believe is necessary. She helps me out in the yard as we fight the many weeds that have taken over the front planting areas.
By the end of the week, she is only one lesson behind in Geometry & caught up in all other subjects. I think I will have to enforce some rules regarding how long she must work before a break or start & end times for subjects. She is spending far too much time on break & not focusing on school enough.

Week 14 Grade 4

Jay asks to start school with his dinosaur documentary from Netflix. He still has 2 episodes left to watch, and I want it finished this week. He spends the rest of the morning watching that. After lunch, he does Vocab games on the computer. Latin is next. He is in chapter 30 in Latin. This chapter & chapter 31 are review chapters. Then, he will be done with the book & ready to start Primer C. Yay! We manage to fit in AAS5 step 8, ASL, Geography, Logic, a Bridge in LOF, a Grammar lesson on Adjectives, Mad Libs, and a Writing exercise with both kids, on using a cluster map to organize your thoughts, all with an hour to spare before dinner. We also read our picture book for literary elements: Me and My Cat? Jay is making dinner tonight. He has chosen breakfast food. So, we make bacon, sausage links, waffles, and scrambled eggs. Dea had to come in to help after I burned my finger when the waffle maker handle broke off. After dinner, Jay finished watching his Dinosaur documentary, read for Science, and read more of White Fang. Starting today, we are doing one analogy from Advancing Through Analogies each day. Since he is still new to analogies, he finds it overwhelming to sit down to a page of 15 of them. I thought that doing one a day would be better. Once he is more confident with them, I will bump it to two.
Tuesday is kind of a grumpy day. I have a headache. The kids are fairly grumpy. Schoolwork gets done, but it is slow going. Jay does get all of his work done. We watch an hour & a half long show on Dinosaurs. He does a worksheet on Adjectives, a chapter in Math, a page in Latin, and practices his numbers in ASL. He reads from his book for Science & colors a picture of a dinosaur. We do Mad Libs & an analogy. He reads from White Fang & reads for Art. We end the day with Boggle & Poetry Tea.
Wednesday I awake with a headache, again. I stay in bed as long as I can, with a blanket over my face, trying to will the headache into submission. It doesn't work. Jay still manages to get all his schoolwork done for the day. I'm pretty sure his favorite part was making a bar graph of the populations of the colonies in 1630. We also manage to do some gardening today, which consists of cutting back some large weeds (I'll ask my wonderful hubby to rip them out later) & trying to identify some of the various unplanned plants growing in the yard. We have Spearmint, what appears to be English Plantain, and several we cannot figure out.
Thursday & Friday are busy. He gets all his school done. He finishes White Fang and starts Tentacles. He plans a colony - where it should colonize, how many people to start it, how many ships to bring them over, what their chief export should be, what occupations will be needed, and designs a flag. Next week we plan to finish up colonial times & should be on witch trials by the following week.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Week 13 Grade 4

Dea wasn't feeling well a few days this week, and that somehow caused Jay to not get all of his work done. We would have been able to make it up on Friday, but we were simply too busy. He didn't even get to the Math or Reading he was scheduled to do on Friday. We had an appointment for Dea in the morning. After lunch, we stopped at my sister's house to visit & buy some stuff at her garage sale. She shares a house with friends of hers, and all were selling stuff in the sale. One of them was selling a camera, and I needed a new camera because mine suddenly died. So, I got a new camera, and the kids each found a few things. I also got to see & hold my baby niece. She is so cute & tiny!
After we left my sister's, we went to a butcher I saw while leaving the place we had lunch. I have been wanting to find a good butcher that has quality meat with decent prices. This place seems like it might work. We picked up most of our meat for the week from the butcher, so we can see what we think. After that, we still had 2 grocery stores & the pet store. By the time we finally finished our errands & had dinner, there was no time to catch up on school work.

Saturday, we had an appointment for Jay. We are working on getting him evaluated, to find out exactly what's going on with him. We finally found someone who will do it & accepts the insurance he has. They told us we had to have our regular Dr refer him & send her notes about the issues that have caused us to want an evaluation. We hadn't talked to our regular Dr about it, because we knew there was nothing she could do, so we had to set up an appointment to talk to her & have her refer Jay to this other Dr. We will see where this goes from here.

Week 2 HS Term 1

Dea was not feeling well this 2 days this week, so she didn't get all of her work done. She did finish chapter 6 of Geometry & section 2 of the Accounting she is doing. We tried signing her up for the Government & Essay Writing classes on UC, but they still have her at where she was when she dropped those classes to start over. She contacted her instructors & they told her to contact the help desk. They really need to get this straightened out soon so she can start those classes over.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

High School Freak Outs

Why does it seem that almost all homeschoolers completely freak out at the prospect of homeschooling high school? Message boards are packed with questions like "Will this be enough credits for 9th grade," "What is the best order to do the Sciences in high school," "Is this enough work," etc. There are also the questions asking if it is alright to do X instead of Y, because people are so afraid to do anything that isn't identical to the public school. Don't forget the many insecure homeschoolers questioning their schedules - are they planning too many hours or not enough.

Time after time, I see comments like "I am freaking out over high school," or "For some reason, the idea of homeschooling high school has me terrified." Even those who have been homeschooling from the beginning seem to feel it. Some don't start feeling it until right before high school starts. Some start feeling it as they start planning middle school. Some get over it by the end of 9th grade, while others stay frightened straight through until graduation.

I guess I understand a little bit of apprehension, a little fear or insecurity, especially if the family didn't start homeschooling until high school or middle school.  I don't really understand the major fear of it, though. I really don't understand it when the family has been homeschooling since the beginning. Now, I'm not trying to invalidate anyone's feelings. I'm not saying you should not feel any trepidation. I'm simply saying I don't understand the massive fear that is so often expressed over high school.

Maybe it is because my daughter started high school level work before 9th grade, as will my son. Maybe it is because my experience in school - high school was not scary, challenging, or overwhelming for me. Whatever the reason, getting to high school level work is just natural progression in our house. It is not a big deal. Nobody freaks out or worries about it here.

I don't know if anything I say will help those who are afraid, but here it is anyway. Here is my advice for how to calm down & not worry about high school.

1. Plan ahead. Don't wait until June to start planning for a school year that starts in August. Plan what courses you expect your child to take in middle school & high school while they are still in elementary school. You don't have to plan the materials that early (after all, not everyone is as uber-organized as I am), but knowing what courses you have planned may help alleviate some of that stress.

2. Gradually increase the amount of time & work until you get to an appropriate amount for high school. I have seen some people post that their kids only did 3-4 hours of work per day, all the way up to high school, then they had them doing 7-8 hours a day. Most often, they were wondering why their child resisted so much or was struggling so much. Some people have said that they don't start formal Writing until high school, and then expect essays & research papers. That would be stressful for anyone. You can't do only informal Math until 8th grade & expect them to be ready to handle 45-60 minute long Algebra lessons in 9th. If you don't grade their work in elementary school, that great. However, by high school, they should be getting graded in all subjects. The same goes for tests. Start in 5th grade, grading & giving tests in one subject. Add more each year until, by 9th grade, all of their subjects have tests & are graded. Have the school day last a little longer each year, so they aren't suddenly expected to work for twice as long as soon as they hit 9th grade.

3. Let them work at their own pace. I have seen many people force their kids to work at a pace different from their natural pace in order to start high school work in 9th grade. I have seen it happen both ways. Some force their kids to slow down, not wanting them to start high school work early at all. Some force them to go at a pace faster then they are ready for, not wanting them 'behind' when they hit 9th grade. Some arbitrarily decide to skip middle school & start high school right after 6th, even if their kids have never shown signs of being advanced or Gifted. All this does is tell the students that high school is a big deal. It builds it up as this huge thing in their minds, and they start to worry about it. Let them work at their own pace, starting high school level work whenever they are ready for it. Don't skip grades, but allow them to move faster, doing more than one grade level of work per year, if that is comfortable for them. Allow them extra time if they need to work slower. Their future will not be horribly ruined if they do Pre-Algebra instead of Algebra in 9th grade.

4. Feel free to customize. Your homeschool does NOT have to look just like a public school. That is true for elementary school, middle school, and for high school. Most homeschoolers have no problem with this idea in the lower grades, but many seem to forget it for the middle or high school levels. You don't have to do 7-8 subjects each year, with all courses done every day for an hour each. Plan each class as only a semester long, still with a full year of work, meaning only half the courses each semester. Plan your school as night school, instead of starting at 7 am. Include some film appreciation & film making courses for your aspiring movie director. Add a few extra Math courses for your Mathy kid. If you aren't comfortable with doing Science labs at home, sign them up for classes at a local community college or co-op. Look for a tutor for the class you find most difficult to teach. Your school can look however you want it to look.

5. Stop comparing yourself/your kids/your plans to others. Just because you see someone else list 3 different foreign languages for their kid, you don't have to be insecure about the fact that you only have 1 planned. Don't stress because your child is in more extra-curricular activities or because they won't be doing Calculus. Just remember that every person is different. Be proud of who your child is. Focus on personal progress, not on beating other people in some imaginary contest.

6. Let it out & let it go. If someone says something that is offensive or hurtful about the way you homeschool, feel free to vent about it. Yell at them. Post to the thread telling them off. Write on your blog about. The key, though, is to think about whether or not there is any merit to what was said. After you've thought & vented about it, let it go. Don't let it keep rattling around in your head. Don't let it continue to bug you. If there was merit to it, consider what changes would most benefit your family & work on them. Not because someone insulted you, because YOU think these changes need to be made. If there was no merit, forget about it. Either way, let it go. What matters is what you, your husband, and your kids think of your homeschooling. Ignore the snide comments. Do not let them make you insecure.

7. Include them. Involve your child in the planning of their high school. Get their input on what classes & what materials to use. Have them help plan the schedule. Let them choose their electives. Explain why you require certain subjects. Find out what they think they might want to do, what career they want, what college they want to attend. It is their future, let them be an active participant in the planning of it. Plus, if you are working together, you can help keep each other calm.

So, that's my advice. Basically, trust yourself. Trust that you know your kids. Trust that you want what is best for them & are willing to do what it takes to provide the education you think they deserve. Don't worry about what others do or what they think about your homeschool. Yes, you should do your research. However, some things don't matter all that much. It really doesn't matter what order you do the Sciences. Chemistry should be done after Algebra 1, as Chemistry uses Algebra. As long as you do that, do them in any order you want. The ACT includes both Algebra & Geometry, so you will want your child to take Algebra 1 & Geometry before taking the ACT. However, outside of test prep, it doesn't matter if you do Algebra 1, Algebra 2, then Geometry or Algebra 1, Geometry, then Algebra 2. Look at your local school district or, better yet, colleges to find out how many/what courses are required/expected to graduate high school/get into a good college. Don't worry about how your number of credits/courses compares to other homeschoolers. Just make sure they meet or exceed what colleges are looking for. There is no magic number of hours a high school student should do per day. There is so much room to personalize it, to make your child's school experience exactly what you both want. You can make sure they are prepared for college, work, life on their own, and have time to explore what they want to do with their life & who they are. Don't get so stressed about high school that you miss the opportunity to watch them choose a path, apply all those things you've taught them about life, blossom into wonderful adults.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Geology Grade 3

Just found this one buried in my drafts. It should have been posted months ago.

Jay also decided to cut this one short. Many of the resources used are listed here, but not all. Some of the books were returned before I got them written down.

Discover National monuments National Parks
Planet Earth
Crystal & Gem
The World Beneath Us
Gemstones of the World
Earthshake: Poems from the Ground Up
Minerals: Gifts From the Earth
1000 Facts on Rocks & Minerals
The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes & Volcanoes
How to Use Wind Power to Light & Heat Your Home
Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas
Geothermal Power
Oil Spills
Natural Gas
Renewable Energy: Sources and Methods
Offshore Drilling
Solar Power
Global Resources

Rocks for Kids
Geology for Kids
Kids Geo
Layers of the Earth
The Earth's Layers
The Tech Museum
Science for Kids
Soil & Erosion
Soil Biological Communities
The Great Plant Escape
Kinetic City
Virtual Lab
PBS - A Science Odyssey
Puzzles of the Earth
This Dynamic Earth
Plate Tectonics
Rocks & Minerals 
Rocks & Mineral Uses
Minerology 4 Kids
Minerals & Fireworks
BBC Schools Science Clips
BBC KS2 Bitesize Science
FEMA Earhtquakes
Earthquakes for kids
Weather Wiz Kids
PBS Savage Earth
Shake, Rattle, and Slide
Volcano World
Michigan Tech
NOVA Vesuvius
The Virtual Lava Tube
Nat Geo Volcano
Geologic Time Scale
Life Has a History
AMNH Ology
Getting into the Fossil Record
Geologic Time
Fossils for Kids
The Dynamic Earth
The Virtual Cave
National Cave Association
Hidden River Cave
Underground Adventures
Fossil Energy
Renewable Energy
Renewable Energy
Energy Matters
Energy Story

Ring of Fire: IMAX
Volcano: Nature's Inferno
Deadliest Earthquakes
Extreme Cave Diving
Eyewitness Volcano
Bill Nye Earth Science


Mine for Gems:

 This bottom pic shows the gems he dug up. The group of small pieces at the top are what is left of the geode. We had trouble cracking it, and when it finally cracked, it shattered. Those are the only pieces we could find.

Make a model of the layers of the earth

All About Volcanoes kit

Grow Your Own Crystals

Sorry there are no pics for these, camera problems.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Week 1 High School Term 1

We have changed things up for Dea's high school. Instead of bothering with 'years' or 'grade levels,' I have taken everything that still needed to be done for her high school & split it into 4 terms. Each term is approx 6 months long. Each term has 5-6 subjects. She had fallen really behind in her work, and I believe it was largely due to feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work she was trying to do. When she gets overwhelmed, she tends to just shut down. That, of course, just makes her fall further behind. So, instead of pressing on through the year & having her fail most classes from lack of effort, I changed things.

Term 1 starts this week. The subjects she is doing for Term 1 are:
Government (on Universal Class)
English - 6 novels test on 3/paper on 3, 1 Writing class on  Universal Class, Spelling, Vocab, Grammar, read On Writing

She has decided to drop both her Universal Class classes & start them over. She cannot start them until next week. So, she doid nothing for Writing or Government this week. For Geometry & Accounting, she is continuing from where she was.

She started chapter 6 this week in Geometry. It is still a battle to get her to do the work. She does not like Math and refuses to put in any effort when doing it. This means that we fight about Math a lot.

For Accounting, she is using a college textbook & the Accounting Lifepacs from AOP. I prefer to stay with only secular materials, so was a little leery about this course. However, I have seen nothing in it to concern me. This week, she did section 1 of book 3 and read chapter 3 in the textbook.

For ASL, we are using The Joy of Signing. This week, we did chapters 1 & 25, Family Relationships & Numbers. I put these two chapters together because she has already learned some of each and should, therefore, not need a full week spent on either.

Each day, Monday - Friday, she is to read 5 pages from On Writing, do 15 minutes of online Vocab games/practice, and 1 lesson of AAS. She also did chapter 1 in The Giggly Guide to Grammar. Her first novel this term is Pet Sematary (since she didn't actually read it the first time around). She is reading 28 pages per day from that. She will then write a paper on it & watch the movie.

Week 12 grade 4

This has been an odd week. My niece had a baby, so we got almost no school done on Tuesday. We did try to get most of the week's planned work done, though.

Jay is taking a short break from planning his Dino Theme Park, and is now working on another project - a presentation on the job of paleontologist. His reading for Science this week has been books on that topic. We also finished watching Walking with Dinosaurs.

He is currently working in LOF Pre-Algebra 1. This week, he did a bridge & 4 chapters. In ASL we have moved on from the chapter on food. We are doing the chapter on numbers. He did chapter 29 in Latin level B. That means only 3 more weeks until he is finished with that level & can move onto level C.

He finished reading The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World. He then read The Call of the Wild. After that, he started on White Fang. This only leaves 27 of the 42 books on his Required Reading list. I may have to add to it again.

Grammar this week consisted of Grammar Land chapter 4 & Grammar games on the computer. He has been complaining that I haven't been scheduling Grammar games for him, so I made sure to schedule them this week. Spelling was AAS5 steps 5 & 6. We did 2 Mad Libs each day, and he played vocab games daily. We discussed the use of Venn diagrams as graphic organizers for writing projects.

We are still planning the trip to Maine for Geography. This week, he worked on finding places we could stay while there. We should finish the plans next week. Then, we can choose a new place to plan a trip to. Logic was Logic games online, lesson 13 in LS3, and lesson 21 in Perplexors A. For Art, we read from Becoming van Gogh & looked at some of van Gogh's works. Music was EMT lesson 6.

We also had to get ready for the weekend & the celebration of my husband's birthday. So, in short, that was our week.