Friday, September 12, 2008

School This Week

We had a great week of school! The girls were MUCH better behaved this week. (It probably helps that I told them I'd get them the new Barbie movie as a prize if they behaved, but still.)

We got math done every day. Woo hoo! We're using Math-U-See this year, and they love it so far. The blocks are a lot of fun. We started with Alpha, which is technically 1st grade math, and we're already on lesson 8 (should be about 1 lesson per week). We were cruising through a lesson a day at first, but we've slowed down a bit now that we've reached math facts and such so we can get in extra practice. My plan is to get through Alpha and Beta this year, and hopefully start on Gamma during the summer.

We also got some grammar done. Emma is doing First Language Lessons 3, and Abbie and I are continuing with First Language Lessons 1/2. They both do well with their work.

We even did some science this week! Last week's science experiment was supposed to involve planting some dried kidney beans. We did it this week on Thursday. Also, this week we started reading about leaves. Our book showed an experiment we tried to replicate. First, we had to choose leaves; Abbie chose sassafras and Emma chose sweet gum (I think):

First, we had to boil the leaves:

Then they had to soak in alcohol, and be kept warm, so we put the bowl of alcohol into another bowl of hot water:

The chlorophyll was supposed to come out of the leaves. It did, a little bit. The leaf in the book turned mostly white. We used a sweet gum leaf, which definitely faded, and a sassafras leaf, which didn't look like it changed at all.

You can see that the alcohol did get a little green, though. So, we got some results and I think the girls thought it was interesting.

We've been having a little trouble with history. We're using Living Books Curriculum which is a Charlotte Mason-based curriculum. Charlotte Mason advocated living books (see how tricky that is - Living Books Curriculum uses living books). I got this definition of a living book from Simply Charlotte Mason:

What is a “living book”?

Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.” They can be contrasted to dry writing, like what is found in most encyclopedias or textbooks, which basically lists informational facts in summary form.

We're supposed to be studying Ancient Egypt and the Revolutionary War. However, as we began to dig into our books, we were confused. For example, our book on the Revolutionary War jumps right in to Taxation Without Representation. There is no background information on the colonies or what was going on. It was frustrating and I could not explain it well.

After talking it over with the girls, we decided that we would like to study American history from the beginning. I came to the conclusion that we needed a history "spine" book, one that will present an overall picture of both our world history and our American history. I have several books that will work, and we started out with A Child's History of the World by Hillyer. It's a wonderful book. We read about Egypt and we read about the Vikings and Columbus. I have some other books that I'll be pulling in, as well. Even though I was frustrated at first, now I feel empowered as a teacher to make changes that will make the curriculum work better for us, and it's a good feeling.

We didn't start spelling yet. We're adding that in next week. We also need to add in art and music. We will be using All About Spelling again this year, which we LOVE. For art, we have Artistic Pursuits (K-3 book 1), and I'm really excited about it. For music and composer study, we will use The Story of the Orchestra, along with Themes to Remember from Classical Magic. Todd looked at Themes to Remember and thinks it is very cool. We also have Story of the Orchestra, which comes with a nifty CD - I think they will go well together.

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