Saturday, September 5, 2009

Weeks 4 and 5 Update

Ok, so I decided that I didn't like delaying my post by a week. It bugged me. :) We have now finished weeks 4 and 5!! Can we really have made it this far already?

We spent Week 4 studying various rulers of the early Medieval World - Charles Martel, Charlesmagne, Otto I. We listened to Story of the World and Mystery of History CDs (Did you know that Mystery of History is on CD also??).

Anything on CD is much easier for me than reading aloud. Not that I don't like reading aloud, but if we are listening to the CD, then I can be attending to the younger kids at the same time. We often get interrupted (and I get frustrated) when I'm trying to read aloud and there are lots of "little" distractions. :)

We spent Week 5 learning about Knights and listening to the story of King Arthur. We also read a short picture book on Beowulf.

The kids made their own Coats of Arms.


Our butterflies came out of their cocoons this week. I am so happy that they survived! Nick had moved the butterfly house and the cocoons fell from the top of the house. I was worried that they weren't going to come out, but they did!!

Kate and Lexie then moved on to study the circulatory system. Here is a model of blood we made, using oil, red hots, and beans to stand for plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Ellie and Kate have finished the first 25 lessons of Sequential Spelling (4 and 1 respectively). I am really enjoying this program. I like that they don't have a set of words that they study for the week. The kids didn't like the "busy work" of the MCP Workout workbooks. I can really tell that Kate's spelling has improved over the past few weeks with this program.

Ellie's gift is definitely in reading and writing. She is very descriptive in her writing assignments - the words she uses amazes me sometimes. Writeshop has been a great fit for us, because it has very clear guidelines for the assignments, and it has a grading checklist for me (which I absolutely need!!)

Kate struggles with writing a bit more. She is only 7 though - I'm sure that she will improve with time and practice. She also doesn't enjoy reading like Ellie does. Reading is work to Kate, not something she does for pleasure. Instead of assigning her specific reading assignments, I have decided that I need to just make sure that she has 30 minutes of reading to herself (and she needs to be in a quiet place where she won't be distracted).

Ellie has finished the first unit of Rosetta Stone Russian. I like this program, but I think that I need to sit down with her and teach her the alphabet, so that she can get the full benefit of the program and be able to read the Cyrillic letters on the screen. I think that I will pull out my old books from when I was studying Russian in the Air Force and go through the sounds of the letters with her. (Russian has 32 letters!!)

The kids are loving Artistic Pursuits and they are enjoying the variations in their lessons. I feel much better about art this year!! This is coming from someone that draws stick people. This makes the lessons so easy!!

I am loving Teaching Textbooks so far. It has made my day much easier. The lectures are given on the computer. Their answers are automatically graded for me. What more could I ask for??

Kate is zipping through grade 4 math without any problems whatsoever. I don't think she's gotten lower than a 91 - and she's enjoying it.

I wish that I could say the same for Ellie. Math just isn't her thing. I think part of it is a mental block - deciding that she just doesn't like math and then she tells herself she isn't good at it. I can't blame her, because I never cared for math much either.

I have to keep telling her that she is doing fine and not to compare herself to her sister. Ellie is doing grade 6 math and with the speed her sister is going through hers, her fear is that Kate will catch up to her - or worse yet pass her up.

I have to remind Ellie that math is just Kate's thing - and that Ellie excels in reading and writing (which Kate struggles with more).

It is interesting to see how the kids can be so different in their interests and talents.

I should mention that Lexie is working her way through Horizons 1. She isn't having any problems at all - she just needs to work on her handwriting skills. She is making her 5s and 3s backwards quite often. I'm sure that's pretty normal though.

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