Thursday, March 31, 2011

Weekly Report

Yeah, with Tyler's Spring Break last week, we didn't get a thing done.  It was a wonderful week of doing fun things, though.  I got a brand new double stroller that I've been wanting for years and we took it for a spin at Pinnacle Mountain.  We also went to the Tubes and the park and shopping.  It was a good week, but no "official" school got done, although all the outdoor and social time was very good for Lydia and Ellie.

And then this week was spent recovering from last week as I had neglected the dishes and laundry and general cleaning.  Luckily I'm caught up on all of those necessities, so we will be doing more schooley stuff soon.  I'm still planning on doing the file folder activity and I have all the materials I need, so I'll be posting that soon.  We did go to the Tubes and the park this week as well, so Lydia is certainly getting in the social time that she needs.   We also spent a lot of time playing Starfall and reading together.  We finished Nesbit's version of Merchant of Venice.  Although Lydia enjoys Starfall quite a bit, I think she has all the games that she is capable of doing memorized, so I'm going to be on the lookout for something on the computer that she can do to help her.  Funnix is pretty much over her head at this point, but she loves the "make a word" game on Starfall where you find the first letter of a word.

I didn't get much farther in Latin because I didn't do any last week during Spring Break and the chapter I'm on is tricky, so I'm working through it a little slowly.  I'm still going, though, and still loving it!  And I now have 74,677 energy points on Khan Academy and am finding that it is a nice review.  It was pretty embarrassing having my husband watch me and find out that I never learned my 6, 7, or 8 times tables.  And I was ashamed at how many tries it took me to complete Multiplication 3 without making a mistake on 10 problems in a row, but I did it!

Music Study is still going great.  Lydia asks to listen to "Baldi" several times a day, and we listen to Bob Dylan almost every day.  Because this is the last day of March, though, I'm working on our playlists for the next 3 months, but I'll have another post about that soon.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekly Report

This week was mostly uneventful.  We didn't have a theme for the week and mostly just read books, colored, and did "letters," which consists of Funnix and Starfall.  She is on lesson 11 in Funnix.  Lydia loves to do anything involved with letters or numbers, although her grasp on them is pretty weak so far (Mom: "Hey Lydia, can you count to 9?" Lydia: "1,4,5,6,7,8,9!") That's just fine, though.  She's only 2 and a half, and we have a lot of fun where she is.

This week she listened to all of Winnie the Pooh and The House on Pooh Corner at least on and a half times on audio book during her quiet/nap times.  They are her favorites and asks for them every day.  We also read the story of Macbeth in Edith Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare.  We read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Go Dog Go countless times as well as several other stories and a healthy dose of Sandra Boynton.  We also went to a few parks and the tubes this week, which is very good for Lydia as she has a very hard time with other children.  I'm going out of my way lately to try to get her to have social experiences to help her learn to deal with them, so that is also taking a lot of our time. 

Lately in family scripture study, which we do right before the girls go to bed, we've been noticing that Lydia is paying more attention.  Usually we do it in the girl's room and Lydia and I sit in the rocking chair while Tyler sits on the floor and reads out loud to us (Ellie is usually in her crib already).  We've been doing this since Lydia was a year old and it is what works for us.  Lately, though, she's started talking a lot while Tyler reads.  Only recently we realized that she was repeating the words he was saying.  She'll take a key word or maybe one he emphasizes and she'll say it too.  She'll say words like Nephites, Korihor, blessings, battle, etc.  It's been fun realizing that she isn't just sitting there daydreaming, but that she's actually listening to Tyler.  It definitely makes me more resolved to make sure we continue.

Oh, and Ellie made a breakthrough this week.  She learned to sit up!  I'm not sure she really likes it though, because every time I sit her down like that she doesn't seem to know what to do with herself and starts crying after a few minutes.  But she can do it!  She'll be joining in with us in no time.

This week I got to lesson 10 in Latin for Beginners.  I'm still enjoying it very much.  In fact, my hard copy of the book arrived this week.  The picture above is of my new textbook and my Latin notebook.  The textbook is an original and I'm pretty sure it was used at a military high school back in 1911 or so.

Here's an example of my Latin translations. I just started on the second declension this week and moving along nicely!  I'm also going to start Khan Academy math.  I've been wanting to review my math skills, and this looks like a fun and free way to do it.  I'm starting at the very beginning, with addition and then graduating as I go.  I'll post more on it later if it turns out that I'm going to stick with it.  I already have 34,955 energy points, and I think it's going to go nicely.

Next week, we're going to do a unit study again.  This time on "Kittens."  I think that will be my pattern: one week I'll do a unit study, the next I'll take it more easy, then unit study and so on.  It works for us right now.  I even found a preschooler-appropriate lapbook to go with our topic next week, so that should be interesting.  I've never done a lapbook before!  I will, of course, post pictures when we do it.

Next week is Tyler's Spring Break, so I may have to see about getting Dad involved!  That would be interesting for sure.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Weekly Report

This week was  a pretty good one, school-wise.  Lydia and I did a unit on the jungle.  Most days we talked about the jungle, our vocab word of the week, "vine," and read our books about the jungle.  The latter was her favorite part.  Lydia would be read to all day long if I was willing.  Her favorite two were Jungle Drums and Bedtime in the Jungle.  We also did a few lessons in Funnix and we did Starfall a few times.  Lydia is now up to lesson 10 in Funnix, although I'm not sure how much is sticking for her.  She asks to do it every day, though, so I figure why not?  Other than that, Lydia has made great strides in counting in the last week or so.  She can count to ten on her own except that she usually forgets three.  But still, given she could only count to two last week, that's pretty good.

Yesterday, we had a fun day at the Tubes at Rock Creek Church, which, as another mom was there put it, are like a McDonald's play place on steroids.  I think the service they do the moms of this community by providing such a fun place to play for free is fantastic.  Lydia still won't climb them, but she did actually go play with everything on the ground level without having to be coerced, which is progress for her.  And she has a very difficult time being social with other children, so it was good to have her around so many for a while.

For the last few days Lydia has been grounded from all books that aren't board books because she's been ripping them on purpose.  We're trying to figure out how to stop that, because she's always been very trustworthy with books before, even when she was very very young.  And she loves books a lot and it is a shame to not let her read them when she wants to.  It broke my heart yesterday when I heard her recite all of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to herself while playing in her room, followed by Go Dog Go.  They are her two favorite books and they were put away where she couldn't have them.  Tyler and I agreed to give her another chance today, though, so we'll see how that goes.

The music study is still going great.  Lydia asks to listen to "Baldy" several times a day, and often asks for Bob Dylan as well.  When the Four Seasons starts, she gets so excited and runs and jumps on the couch.  It's good to see her enthusiastic about classical music!

Other than that, my week has been eventful because I started my study of Latin.  It is going great and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I didn't expect to enjoy it so much, but I'm glad that I am.  I'm working on lesson 7 of Latin for Beginners and it is all sticking very well.  I do need to memorize the endings though, and as memorization is my weakness, I've got to figure out a way to do that well.  Does anyone have any recommendations for that?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Learning Latin

I'm doing it!  I'm learning Latin.  And I have to say, it is a total blast.  I'm really excited about it.  I dreamed about it last night, in fact.

Because I plan on following the Classical Education method when homeschooling our girls, I've run into the idea of teaching Latin many times.  At first I thought it seemed pointless.  Why teach a dead language?  Why bother with it when you could teach a useful language.  The more I studied about the benefits of Latin, though, the more convinced I became.  The very fact that it is a dead language means that it is an ideal one to teach in a home environment where the parent is not fluent.  Latin is read and written, but rarely spoken.  It does great things for test scores and it helps children in grammar, vocabulary, and in logic.

Then there is the history associated with it.  Latin was taught in almost every western school for the last several hundred years.  So much of our sciences and histories are in Latin and a knowledge of Latin will open my children's doors to original writings.  One of the biggest things I aim to do in homeschooling is to teach my children in an unfiltered way.  This means no textbooks for content subjects.  We will go straight to living books and original sources for history.  Having a Latin background will help enable them in this endeaver.

I'm sure I have more reasons than what I've listed, but I can't really think of them right now.  Needless to say, I became convinced to teach Latin.  I researched Latin curriculum.  I attended a few lectures at the homeschooling convention on the subject, and I talked to one of the developers of my favorite children's Latin curriculum for 10 minutes or so at his vendor booth.  Latin was on my mind.

But then there was the problem with me.  I have zero Latin experience.  Even my foreign language experience is pretty dismal.  I had two years of French and one year of Japanese in High School, followed by two semesters of German in college.  I remember almost none of it and I didn't feel like I was talented in the foreign language department.  I figured I'd just learn Latin along with my kids.  Maybe I'd even stay a month or so ahead of them so I could help them.

Then the other day I was playing around on the Old Fashioned Education website, which lists tons of free educational resources.  On a whim I clicked on their Latin section.  That's where I first saw it.  My new favorite book: Latin for Beginners by Benjamin D'ooge.  Latin for Beginners was written over a hundred years ago.  My previous experience with old texts was that there was very little hand-holding and a lot of information thrown at you very fast.  But as I started skimming this one, I realized that it was very modern in style.  And most importantly, it explained the grammar as if I had no previous knowledge about grammar terms.  It explains what the cases are, the parts of speach, etc. while teaching about their Latin counterparts.

This is exactly what I needed.  I got all A's in school in English, but I couldn't use a lick of it to save my life (as may be noticed from my poor writing).  After researching, I found that I'm not the only person who loves this text.  There is a whole forum about it, as well as several free resources including virtual vocab flashcards, audio lectures, and a downloadable answer key.  From what I can tell, it is supposed to be comparable to Henle Latin and will prepare the student to read Caesar by the end.

I have completed the first 5 lessons out of 76 and am having a blast.  I can't wait until the girls' bed time so that I can do some more.  It is perfect for me, and I just had to share.  Every time I sit down to work on a lesson, time flies by very fast.  It's like I'm working on a really interesting puzzle.

After working on the first few lessons, I realized that while possible, it would be onconvenient to do the whole book in PDF format on my computer.  I simply need to go back and forth to look things up too much.  So I bought on original copy off Abe Books for $5.  I'm thinking this will be one of the best $5 I've ever spent.

If you are interested, here are some links to the resources I've mentioned:

Latin for Beginners, Benjamin D'Ooge
Latin for Beginners Answer Key
Latin for Beginners Flash Cards (search for DB/LFB/001, changing the last number to represent the lesson you are looking for, so DB/LFB/002 for lesson 2)
Latin for Beginners Forum
Latin for Beginners Audio

(Although I gave up on this a few months ago, I just discovered that there is also an original teacher's manual available for it as well.  It thought that I would link to it with the rest of the resources.)

Latin for Beginners Teacher's Manual

I'm excited to see where this takes me!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Conference Week

I got home last night from the Mid-South Homeschooling Convention in Memphis.  It was a ton of fun.  I went by myself, without any kids or anything.  I was a little nervous about that because I've never left the girls over night before, but it was ok.  My wonderful mother-in-law came and helped my husband while he was in classes, so I didn't need to worry.  I did miss them though!

The conference itself was fun.  I enjoyed several of the lectures, especially Susan Wise Bauer and Jim Weiss.  I also really enjoyed walking around the vendor hall and seeing all there was to see.  Because Lydia is only 2 and a half, I didn't have much I could buy, but I did go ahead and buy her the preschool math program I'm planning on starting in a year and a half.  I don't know that I'm going to plan on going again any time soon, but it was definitely worth going once.

We didn't do much "school" this week, partially because I was gone for half of it.  Back in January I downloaded Funnix for free.  It's a computer program that teaches reading and Lydia loves it.  We're on lesson 9, and although it's a little over her head still, I think she's definitely enjoying it and learning things.  Every day she asks to "do letters" and would do it all day if I had the sanity to help her the whole time.  I plan on starting The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading as soon as she can grasp the material, but for now Funnix is a fun substitute. She also has totally fallen in love with Vivaldi.  She asks to listen to our Vivaldi playlist several times a day, although she calls him "Baldy."  We have also continued to read many books every day.

Some advice I was given when Lydia was a baby was that if I plan on homeschooling, I should never let Lydia give up her afternoon nap.  I should just transition it into a rest time for a few hours in the afternoon.  This has been some of the best advice I've ever been given.  Lydia hasn't napped much for about a year now, but every afternoon she plays in her room by herself for two hours.  I usually give her books and a few toys and turn on an audio book.  She has listened to Winnie the Pooh and the House on Pooh Corner all the way through several times now, and loves it.  She actually gets angry after lunch if I don't put her down IMMEDIATELY.  And I get two Lydia-free (and sometimes Ellie-free) hours in the afternoon.  It's a win-win!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sick Week

We didn't really do anything schoolish last week for a number of reasons.  The first being that we were all sick.  Lydia had an ear infection, Tyler and I had colds, and Ellie had something that made her cranky.  On Friday and Saturday we went to Tyler's hometown because one of his best friends from childhood was having her wedding open house.  It was good to be able to go and spend a day away, but stack that with doctor's appointments and Tyler studying at home for finals every waking hour, and we pretty much had a recipe for laziness.  Luckily, Lydia is still so young that it doesn't really matter if I do anything preschooly with her or not.  We read a few books and she's good.

This week, unfortunately, isn't going to get much better.  I'm leaving on Thursday to go the the Memphis homeschooling convention for a few days, all by my self!  I've never been without the girls overnight, except when I was in the hospital having Ellie.  Tyler can't come because of class, but his mother has volunteered to come down and spend a few days watching the girls while Tyler is in class and studying.  My original plan was to bring both girls by myself, but this is a MUCH better option.  I'm really looking forward to getting to hear all the lectures, but I'm really going to miss my girls.  I'm still on the fence about whether I'm taking Ellie with me or not, but I probably won't.

Next week, though, we're doing a unit on Jungles!