09 October 2015

Agent Homeschooling 2015-2016: Week 15

This week I’m trying a new format and simply bullet-listing what we worked on in each subject. This would also be known as, it’s week 15 of these updates and full sentences/paragraphs are too much for this incredibly lazy blogger. I’ve also given up on listing PE as a separate category because I can only say we don’t do anything formal but still get lots of exercise and sometimes walk around the block so many different ways.

  • practiced multiplication tables (both Agents, adjusted for grade level)
  • introduced two-digit addition using carrying and using partial sums (Agent J)
  • introduced adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators (Agent E)
  • reviewed coin values and making change (Agent J)
  • read another selection from the Sir Cumference series
  • started reading Life of Fred Jelly Beans (Agent E)

Language Arts
  • learned about sentence structure (independent clauses vs. sentence fragments)
  • reviewed types of punctuation
  • differentiated between types of sentences (declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, command)
  • introduced prefixes and suffixes and how they change root words
  • read All The Books (per our usual)

  • reviewed numbers one through ten (pronouncing and spelling)
  • practiced saying the Spanish alphabet
  • discussed the difference between the formal and informal use of “you"
  • learned a few common words/phrases (hello, how are you, my name is)
  • introduced days of the week and months of the year

  • learned about the formation of volcanoes
  • discussed what happens when a volcano erupts and what is considered an “active” volcano
  • read stories about different volcanic eruptions around the world at different times in history
  • re-read Vacation Under the Volcano (a Magic Tree House favorite)
  • looked at photos from our trip to Pompeii (which neither of them remember; they were 2 and 4)

  • wrapped up the “really ancient history” (3000-700 BCE) section of our spine book
  • talked about the metal ages
  • discussed the finding of King Tut’s tomb
  • read a story about the life of an Egyptian scribe
  • found a reference to the Ark of the Covenant, which led to a desire to re-watch all the Indiana Jones movies (except Temple of Doom, because it’s creepy)
  • continued last week’s look at Hinduism (some world religions we spend one week on, some two)

  • discussed the differences between pouched, egg-laying, and placental mammals
  • learned about “extreme” mammals (fastest, largest, smallest, loudest, tallest, etc.)
  • watched Lions: Spy in the Den (hosted by our favorite narrator, David Attenborough, and available on Netflix)
  • continued reading through the book Evolution Revolution (focusing this week on genes)

  • began reading through the series of body books by Robie H. Harris (seriously; these are great)
  • talked about the differences between bacteria and viruses
  • completed the first of several planned germ experiments
  • decided to temporarily put our human body systems study on hold and focus on germs and more general “staying healthy” info

  • looked at Renaissance art (1400s-1500s), including Italian, Northern European, and German styles (very briefly; mostly they just tried to find the weirdest aspect of each sample in the book)
  • introduced rules of perspective
  • read about the “fools” (court jesters) of Medieval and Renaissance times
  • reviewed art history topics covered to this point

  • studied the contributions of Ziryab (on music as well as food, fashion, and hygiene)
  • practiced keyboard and recorder (primarily Agent E, although Agent J is beginning to take an interest)
  • reviewed music history topics covered to this point
  • began mini unit study on types of instruments (with coloring pages, because, coloring pages)

I’ve recently simplified my social media outlets. You can find me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and the Hip Homeschool Hop at Hip Homeschool Moms.

02 October 2015

Agent Homeschooling 2015-2016: Week 14

Hello, friends. Hope you had a great week. Following is a summary of what we did this week in our homeschooling for Agent E (grade 4) and Agent J (grade 2). We also have a kindergarten student (Agent A, age 4.5) but we don’t do much formal or structured with him so he’s not typically included in these updates. (But, if you’re curious about how we do kindergarten around here—well, the reading and writing part, anyway—you can check out this post.)

Om Nom watching Magnet Person
take Magnet Dog for a walk under the Magnet Sun
This week we looked at measurement, ratio, money, multiplication, division, and telling time. (Not all at once and not all subjects with both Agents.) My plan was to just look at measurement (and maybe money with Agent J) but somehow we had a week of rabbit holes with math. We also tried checking out one of the “math kits” our library puts together (a tote for each grade—kindergarten through fifth—with books, games, worksheets, suggested online resources, etc.) but it didn’t work for us. The books were so-so (we’ve chosen better ones on our own) and the binder of activities was overwhelming and not that interesting. A good idea in theory, though, and maybe it works for some.

Language Arts
We looked at punctuation this week with the help of several great (and funny) grammar books. We’ve now covered all the parts of speech, synonyms and antonyms, similes and metaphors, homonyms and homophones, and punctuation. Along the way, we’ve done some sentence structure (subject/verb agreement), word choice (they’re vs. there, action verb vs. linking verb, comparative vs. superlative adjectives), spelling rules, and reading comprehension. I think it has helped the Senior Agents to see all the mechanics broken down in this way. Like their Momma (ahem) they seem to have a pretty intuitive grasp of grammar and what just “looks and sounds right.” Now, I would like to start making a more concerted effort to work on original writing. For both girls, reading level (speed, comprehension, interest, desire) has always outpaced writing interest (and skill). I’m not sure yet what the best way to go about this will be, but hopefully we’ll figure it out soon and I'll share in next week’s update.

Agent J rocking her Octonauts hat from a birthday party last weekend
After much back-and-forth indecision (mostly on my part) we decided to throw Spanish into the mix this week. Now, we’ve tried this in the past and it never really got off the ground, so we’re hoping that it sticks this time. We started with a very basic (Grade 1) Spanish workbook and we will build from there. This week focused primarily on numbers. 

We covered mountains this week, including a book about the first expedition to reach Everest’s summit. Thinking of switching up our geography studies once we get to the end of this unit on planet earth. Maybe moving away from physical geography and going back to studying the human geography of different countries. (The fact that we booked a trip to Disney this week and cannot wait to get back to the World Showcase in Epcot may have possibly influenced this decision a wee bit.)

We took another break from our history spine this week. (Truth: It’s going pretty slow.) We also kind of gave up on one of the human evolution books we were reading—the level of detail is simply too much for right now. We did, however, continue with our survey of world religions. We talked about Hinduism and read a few books including a Hindu folk tale. (We’re kind of into folk tales around here. Not sure how or when that got started.)

This week we got more into our study of mammals, concentrating on marsupials. We finished the Life of Mammals series on Netflix as well. The Senior Agents are currently undecided as to what types of animals they would like to move onto next.

Having wrapped up our study of the muscular system, we decided to take a brief break from looking at the individual body systems to tackle germs. (This was totally prompted by randomly running across Bill Nye’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs at the library.) There are several experiments to try, so we’ll likely continue with this for at least another week or so. 

Mr. and Mrs. Fluffy
(Yes, we had a wedding ceremony)
We read several fun books this week about the use of color in art, and learned a bit about how folks used to make their own paints (often with super-expensive and/or poisonous substances). Then we messed around with paint on our own. Because, messing.

This week we looked at stringed instruments. We also did a little mini-review of some of the other instruments we covered so far. Agent E continues to practice her keyboard skills daily. She only knows the first few notes, but The Imperial March is on her list of must-learn tunes.

So much for our run of decent weather and getting outside daily. Rain plus cold means we need a new plan and we need it soon. Our enthusiasm for exercise videos kind of fizzled. The few days it wasn’t pouring this week, we did make it out for a walk around the neighborhood. But we definitely need to work on options for our second New York winter. We spent way too many days inside last year.

Hope your weekend is fabulous. Happy Friday.

I’ve recently simplified my social media outlets. You can find me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and the Hip Homeschool Hop at Hip Homeschool Moms.

29 September 2015

We’re Not Busy. And That’s Okay.

This time of year especially, with the school year in full swing and the holidays approaching, most everyone we know tosses two words into every single conversation:

So. Busy.

And I don’t relate. At all.  Because we are for the most part—can I say this out loud?—decidedly not busy. By choice. And we like it that way.

We intentionally choose to have lots and lots of breathing room in our lives. Oh, we still Do The Things. But, we are extremely selective about what Things make it into our routine.

Quite honestly, our simple, unhurried homeschooling schedule is pretty sweet. We don’t mind staying close to home most days, and we like the steady rhythm of our days. Our general rule before adding any regular event to our calendar is to ask, is this activity worth disrupting our week?

We do have a few specific (timed, outside) activities in which we participate, both weekly (e.g., UU services) and monthly (e.g., a homeschoolers workshop for the Senior Agents), but for the most part our calendar is pretty free.

This is an anomaly in a world where non-stop busy-ness is worn like a badge of honor. I’m not saying what we’re doing is better. I’m saying I think many people forget they have options.

And I am acutely aware of how fortunate we are to be able to orchestrate a non-busy life. Dear Hubby is our sole income provider and I am our primary childcare provider and do most all of the homeschooling planning, implementation, and record keeping. I realize how privileged it is to be able to say, we choose to do this or we choose to not do this when our family dynamics are what they are.

I know that some folks truly don’t have a choice. People for whom “busy” is a way of surviving . . . the ones working two or three jobs, raising kids without a partner or family support, taking care of aging parents, juggling childcare, just trying to make ends meet financially and get by.

Let’s face it, though: for most people being busy is a luxury. A self-imposed, too many good things to choose from, take advantage of every opportunity, can’t say no, luxury.

People confuse I have to with I get to. We complain about the privilege of having too many extracurricular activities to choose from, and then expect empathy for our purposely over-scheduled lives.

I’m not going to argue the merits of individual activities and schedules, or suggest that you personally go all minimalist. That is totally up to you.

I’m just lending a voice to the (apparent) minority who do not over-schedule, do not stress fitting it all in, do not mind the relative silence.

Were out there, and contrary to the conventional wisdom of our current culture, were doing just fine.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like:

I’ve recently simplified my social media outlets. You can find me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

Linking up with Wake Up Wednesday co-hosted by Krista at Far From Normalthe SHINE Blog Hop co-hosted by Jennifer at The Deliberate Mom, and the Hip Homeschool Hop at Hip Homeschool Moms.