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Okay, so January has been fairly uneventful in our homeschool world. I was working very hard on finishing up an extensive government unit for my two teacher stores, so I didn’t do as much thematic stuff with my little one as I normally do, nor did I take many pictures of the work we did. But now I’m doing the running man dance because the unit is FINALLY complete and I can get back to normal life!
And, I’m shamelessly plugging here, but in case you are interested, below are the products I’ve made for U.S. government. You can check them all out by clicking on the picture!
Okay, onto what the kids have been up to!
This month I did make a few changes in how I plan out lessons. After doing this for four months I have more of a feel for how I prefer to plan and keep things organized. I started out with daily planning because, as a prior classroom teacher, that is what I was used to doing. But what I’ve found is that method doesn’t work well at home. Every day is different, especially having a toddler running around. Some days we have appointments or other things going on, and we can’t get to every subject. In the classroom, I knew (for the most part) exactly what my day would look like, so planning down to the minute was possible. But toddlers are unpredictable, and many times, so is our day. So, now I have weekly checklists rather than daily plans. This gives me the flexibility to get things done without the stress of feeling like I’m getting behind. I’m not really behind because our time is totally flexible (another mindset that is hard for me to get out of), but it feels like I am if I don’t get something done in my plans. So here is what my current planning sheet looks like for February, since I just finished it:
The top portion is planning for my toddler. I just fill in the spaces with various activities I’d like to work on with him and pick some for him to do each week. The bottom is where I write which lessons, chapters, etc., I want to work on with my oldest. I only fill it in one week at a time so if we don’t get to something one week, we can make make it up the following one. I just check off the lessons/activities as we complete them. Along the bottom is the list of the current subjects my son is working on, just to keep me in line!
Some of you might be thinking that those are very small spaces to write lessons in! Well, each unit we are working on has a progression. I have a binder for each that has every resource and activity included. The units are broken down and planned out, so that part I’ve already done. Some things I’m using already have it planned out for me, so I just have to be familiar with what we’re doing when planning out the week. I just jot down the lesson and then refer to the unit binder for the specifics, if that makes sense.
Anyway, here’s the scoop on what we did in January:
Little man started OT this month, which he LOVES! We’ve only had it a couple of times because my son was sick one of the weeks, but I can already tell how great it will be for him. A lot of things are starting to make sense for me regarding his behaviors, and I’m looking forward to getting more information from her about how to help him. I’ll write more about the specifics surrounding his behaviors in a later post. But his therapies drive a lot of what I do with him at home, so I feel it’s worth mentioning here.
The swings were his favorite! During this particular visit his OT was just introducing some of the equipment to him as she was doing some gross motor assessments. She had two swings she let him try, the one below and a cocoon-type of swing the he could be fully enclosed in. That one was his favorite. He wanted to spin in it, and he could’ve stayed in that thing the entire day. I thought he had fallen asleep at one point because he was so quiet! I want her entire room in my house…so much cool stuff!
In speech we are working on more four-word combinations, opposites and prepositions, and just all around work on the formation of multi-syllabic words. He is talking A TON and is improving so much in all of these areas. He wants to talk and converse with us so much. He even just goes on a babbling spree to mimic how we talk. I think it’s his way of feeling like he’s part of our conversations! He enjoys playing a game where he whacks picture cards with a fly swatter that show what she’s talking about (like prepositions, etc.).
I broke out the paint one day and let the kids spend awhile creating. I love art and love that both of my kids do too.
Little man did a watercolor painting and once it was dry I cut it up into little triangles and glued them to white paper and framed it! I got the genius idea from Honest to Nod!
I also let him play with mixing acrylics. I taped over two canvases and let him go to town. I’m going to hang these in our learning space.
Other than these things we did puzzles, built things, played a lot…that was pretty much the gist of this month.
We are now more than halfway through middle school chemistry! My son aced his second chemistry exam and then moved into the fifth chapter over water molecules and dissolving. He’s been learning about the polarity of water molecules and testing less polar liquids for their evaporation rate, surface tension and comparing them with that of water molecules.
He got this cool magnifier for Christmas, which has three interchangeable lenses plus a light. We use it with just about every experiment now!
He also got his first microscope, which he just adores! You can find it HERE.) I let him spend one entire morning exploring with it because he was having so much fun! I also got to introduce his grammy’s microscope that she had when she was in high school, which she gave to him (the one in the wooden box on the left in the pic)! He’s going to treasure that forever.
We’ve finally finished The Hobbit! What a WONDERFUL unit! He loved the book and we had so much fun reading it together. Special times, for sure. We worked on symbolism and point of view (first person, second person, third limited, third omniscient, third objective). I purchased these great task cards and they helped him get a good hang of distinguishing between different POVs (although they do not include third person objective, just limited and omniscient).
He got an A on his final exam, but for the final portion of the unit he typed an essay on how The Hobbit follows James Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” monomyth. I found this wonderful FREE prezi about the monomyth, and my son watched and took notes. It was easy for him to follow and even included some movie clips! I showed him other visual versions as well, as some use different terminology or leave out different steps. We tried to keep it pretty simple.
I loved this because it was more than just writing an essay. He was able to work on note-taking, learned how to type an essay correctly on the computer (spacing, font/size, etc.) how to outline, and just more about the writing style itself. I did not give him the assignment then set him free. Parts he did all alone, but I treated this more as a writing lesson. He is learning how to make his writing flow, which includes varying sentence length, not repeating certain words, etc. He does very well on his own, but I know he is capable of growth, so I was more of a coach this time around. I didn’t write it for him by any means; it’s all his words. I just helped him “hear” his writing and become more critical of it. We read examples of good essay writing on other topics and even critiqued some. As time goes on and he does more essay writing, I will back off until he can do it on his own with confidence.
Our next novel study is going to be over one of my favorites, The Giver! I was going to continue on with The Lord of the Rings, but I think he’s actually going to read those on his own so we can move onto other books and genres later.
SO. My son is now enrolled in high school algebra. I don’t think that has quite sunk in with me yet. It kinda freaks the heck out of me, quite honestly, but I am also utterly amazed. This kid is so intrinsically motivated in math…I seriously can’t understand it. It blows my mind into a million pieces over and over again. In October he began Arithmetic on Khan Academy, which is split by skill set and goes from 3rd through 8th grade math. He finished all of that by Jan 1st. In January he began working on Khan’s Algebra Basics and Pre-Algebra courses. He INSISTED we start with them before moving to full algebra. HE did, not us. So, we let him do it. And do it he did. In one month.
I’m getting a post ready about Khan Academy and how it has completely changed our homeschool life. I almost want to cry at how much I love it. We use it for math, but we’ve also used their incredibly thorough chemistry videos. But the math portion is phenomenal and has allowed my son to finally move along in math at HIS pace. Differentiation at its finest, y’all. Now, math is my husband’s forte. I don’t do a lot of math with my son, my husband does most of it. My son works on the skills on his own and then my husband mentors him some nights during the week and on the weekends. He only helps him on the practice when he needs it; he won’t help him on the mastery challenges. Anyway, I’ll post a more in-depth explanation on how Khan works in my next post, in case anyone is interested in using it. It’s really is a great option for tutoring and for younger kids who are high-achieving in math. It can be used in a classroom or at home and it is FREE. Okay, I’ll stop now.
It’s becoming more apparent that my son needs to learn research skills, specifically relating to information online. This month I taught him how to use Evernote for his research, how to evaluate websites, determine the credibility of websites and articles, etc. Since we’re at home most of the day and normally get done with school by lunch, my son has a lot of free time. So some of that he is allowed to research any topic he wants. Of course, it is usually centered around science.
My parents got him the complete set of National Geographic from when they began until 2009. It comes as a program you download on the computer and then you can view the issues using different discs. With the program you can search every single article that was ever written between that time. You can also save articles and view all the photographs and graphics. It’s amazing! He loves it! Click on the image below to view it on Amazon.
He’s still working through Latin/Greek roots. Once we get done with that we’ll get more into middle school grammar skills. We integrate a lot of that into the normal writing we do, but I want to go through some focused lessons as well.
U.S. Regions got put on the back-burner for a bit, but he’s back at it, researching the Northeast Region. We’re going to move pretty quickly through these now because I’m wanting him to start American history soon to lead into government. I did A LOT of research on curriculums and decided to purchase All American History, by Bright Ideas Press to use as our core. I’d like to start government in the fall so we can get into elections, so we need to get going!
Okay, I guess that about covers it for now!