Friday, August 30, 2013

Tapestry of Grace Year 3, Week 2: Napoleon: The Man and His Career

We made it through our second week of school!  Everyone is doing great!  Meryn is having a great time at play school each day, although she missed three days this week.  Tuesday was a celebration of a Hindu festival that was on Wednesday, so she didn't go either of those days.  Thursday, the minister in town decided it was a holiday that day as well at the last minute, so all the schools were closed again. Happy times!  But we made it through with Meryn at home, and learned a lot!

This week in Tapestry, we studied Napoleon.  We learned about his birth, and that he was actually born in Corsica, and grew up speaking Italian, and always spoke French with a funny accent.  We learned about his military career, successes, and character flaws, his marriages, and his rise to Emperor.  We also learned the basics of the French Revolution, how it was influenced by the American Revolution, the causes leading up to it, and the leaders involved in its success.  For me, this was a really interesting week, because there was a lot about this part of history that I was completely ignorant of.  I found myself reading the kids books long after they lost interest! :)

I was so proud of Luke this week as well!  Last week, we did lots of analysis on The Hare and the Tortoise by Aesop.  This week, his task was to immitate it in his own words. Day 1 was recalling the story and narrating it to me.  The second day, he worked on writing a first draft.  The third day, we edited the first draft together, and the fourth day, he wrote a final draft based on the corrections.  I made a mistake on the third day. I sat down with him with a green pen and started talking through his draft and marking corrections.  BAD IDEA. : ) If I had read the teacher's manual better, I would have known that.  So we started over (after I copied his rough draft onto a fresh sheet of paper), Luke with the correcting pen in hand.  I allowed him to find as many correction as he could, and we worked on re-wording some things together.  He did a fantastic job, and I was so proud of the result!

"The Hare and the Tortoise
The Hare was once boasting before other animals. "I have never yet been beaten" said he. "I challenge anyone here to race with me" he said.  Soon a Tortoise spoke up. "I accept your challenge."  "That's a good joke" said the Hare.  So the Tortoise asked for a race. So a course was set and a start was made.  Like a jet the Hare zoomed off, but the Tortoise plodded on.  The Hare was tired so he decided to take a nap.  The Tortoise plodded on.  He was near the finish line.  When the Hare awoke he knew he had lost.  Moral, Slow and steady wins the race."

How awesome is that?!  And it will just get better from here!  I am so proud of Luke's first composition and can't wait to see how he improves and grows this year!

We're doing more notebooking this year.  I've adapted the Veritas Bible so that we do not have as much writing.  Instead, they get to draw or color a picture each week.  This was Luke's copy of the artwork on the flash card in his notebook.  I love it!

Here's a little look at how I'm organized this year.  I've got a sheet for each child's assignments for the week, with our five daily subjects, and the elective across the bottom row.  I spent quite a bit of time before school started mapping out the first nine weeks and making detailed lesson plans.  Each week, I just work off those and fill out the spreadsheets and put them in my notebook. It has saved me a lot of time, I think, and I don't have to think about school planning on the weekends. I hope I can keep doing this throughout the year for each new nine weeks!

Then I have an additional sheet with all the Tapestry assignments for the week. I've tried to get into computer planning programs, but I just love paper and writing, and having a notebook.  So this works for me!

This is a look into the pages of Classical Writing Primer.  Kiryn drew what she can see from the north side of our house this week.  I love the detail of the Indian flag! 

The kids each have two notebooks for the year.  These are the subject notebooks, and they contain notebook pages for Bible, dictation and copywork pages for spelling, and any other sheets we need for the week.  Their math is done in a separate book, and their science also has its own notebook for observations.  

They've got their own assignment sheets at the front of their notebooks each week. Its easy with these Proclick binders!  Last year we used the standard two ring D-ring binders you can find here.  They were fine, but the kids lean on their pages a lot, and were constantly tearing them out.  These spirals can easily pop open to add a page wherever you want, and zip closed again.  So each week, I turn them so that this weeks work is on top, and put last weeks at the back.  Everything stays in order, but no searching!  

This is an example of their Tapestry notebooks.  Their Student Activity pages are in there, the Introduction and summaries for the week, as well as any literature evaluation and map work.  Another thing I love about these Proclick binders is the books can open up to one page and be folded, and then lay flat.  It makes it easy to turn the book and do geography, as pictured above.  

This is working so well for us, and I couldn't be more pleased with how this year is going!  Two weeks down, thirty four to go! :)  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tapestry Year 3-Week 1: When John Adams Was President

We had a great first week of school!  I am loving our new schedule this year.  It seems slimmed down and more to the point, and easier to accomplish, which leaves all of us feeling great.  And I'm confident that we're getting plenty of learning in!

This week we reviewed the Presidency of George Washington, and talked about the highlights of John Adams' Presidency.  The kids are both making a "Presidents" book, with one page of facts and pictures of each President as we go through this year and next.  I had thought about starting their timelines this year, but I think we'll wait until we go back to Year 1 again.  I don't think they would really get it yet...

Chemistry was fun this week!  Since Chemistry can be kind of boring (at least all the factual information), Elemental Science decided to start it off right by making ice cream.  Since my refrigerator has two small ice trays that hold about 12 miniature ice cubes each, we didn't have enough ice. :)  (I did freeze two rounds!)  But the cream got really really cold, and it made a mean milkshake!

I am really pleased with our new writing program, Classical Writing.  This week, Kiryn got to memorize a riddle about the days of the week, study a picture by Winslow Homer (Snap the Whip), and do a Nature study about north, south, east and west.  She did a bit of copywork, and turned singular nouns into plural ones.  So far, very pleased with the Primer.  It's similar to other programs I've used, but in my opinion, far superior.  I love the copywork, the interest that it has, and how basic it is, yet it challenges the student to think, and engage with the art and nature and the words.  Holistic learning.  Loving it.

I could say the same for Aesop A.  This week Luke spent the week analyzing the model, which was "The Hare and the Tortoise" by Aesop.  He had to read it, then tell it back, look for spelling words and analyze them, learn new words by looking them up in the dictionary, and learn the basics of a sentence.  Next week will spent putting these things into practice by imitating the model.  This is a totally different approach than modern writing programs.  There is no reliance upon, or even much room for, creative writing at this point.  Here is a quote from the Introduction to Aesop:

"Teachers and students should note that Classical Writing differs dramatically from typical modern writing programs.  With modern methods, only naturally gifted people learn to write with eloquence and persuasion.  A lack of critical thinking about meaningful content, a lack of precision and flexibility in the use of words and sentences, a lack of attention to the fitting organization and content of a composition for a given audience, and an abominable lack of style permeate most modern writing programs.  In short, modern writing has radically "dumbed down" the rich, classical heritage of true, beautiful, good and persuasive writing. 

In modern writing pedagogy, where "creativity" and "originality" are of the utmost importance, the classical method is thought to hamper student creativity in writing.  It is thought to be far too heavy on theory ("stifling rules and regulations") and far too rooted in imitation ("slavish copying").  Just the opposite is true." (Classical Writing: Aesop Introduction, pg. 3-4).

When I read that, I was sold.  There is so much more I could quote from that introduction that convinced me this was the way to learn writing.  Not just writing, but critical thinking as well.  I think I'm going to learn about how to be a good writer from this program. : )  I cannot figure out why more home-schoolers are not using this secret gem of a writing curriculum!

We also started Song School Latin this week!  The kids really enjoyed this, and it was a lot of fun. I caught them saying "Salve!" and "Vale!" as they were playing!  (Hello and Goodbye). We're doing this one day a week, and playing the matching game a few times, and I'm hoping it's just a lot of fun, and they get some vocabulary from it by the end of the year.

We had a great week, and I see the kids making big strides in their basic skills!  I so enjoy being home with them and seeing lightbulbs go off and accomplishments happen!

Working on our Unit 1 Tapestry lap books: Why we study history!

Mom shaking the ice cream!

Luke taking his turn with the shaking!

My studious one, looking up new vocabulary words in the dictionary!

We studied Israels Sin Cycle during the time of the judges this week with Veritas Bible, and made this chart.

And, since Planes came to town, we ended our first week of school by a morning at the movies with friends!

Planes in 3D was great! :) 

Monday, August 19, 2013

First Day of School 2013!

We started our school year today!  I made some last minute changes to my plans and our schedules, which I think will be much for the better.

We are doing five main subjects each day, plus Tapestry of Grace.  Then each day we will have an elective, something we do once a week.  Our five mains are: Veritas Bible, Math-U-See, All About Spelling, Classical Writing, and Elemental Science Chemistry.  Once a week we'll do: McGuffey Readers with questions and copywork; Piano; Song School Latin; Art; Classical Conversations Geography Trivium Tables.

This seems like a much more focused approach to me, and one that is really manageable.  I love the idea of this and hope we can feel like we're accomplishing a lot while still enjoying life.  Today, even with the back-to-school-blues, we were able to finish everything (including Tapestry!) by 2:00 p.m.  Awesome. : )  It frees me up a bit to do those extra subjects once a week, rather than feeling like we have to hit them every day or several times a week.

I also finally got around to do something with our school area.  We've lived in our new apartment for about six months now, and the school space was pretty much just some tables thrown in the corner.  Not anymore! : )  It was so fun putting together a bright, cozy room.  Here are some pictures from our first day at school!

Yes, that is a wooden spoon on the floor, and I'm not afraid to use it. : ) 

So love this young guy!  He is full of life, smarts, and is so fun to be around.  Caring, compassionate, and a wonderful big brother. 

Too bad he didn't display that he loved school today. I need to print this out and hang it on the wall in the school room.... just as a reminder. 

My beautiful little Kiryn!  She's big enough to be starting second grade this year.  Oh my...  She is a tender hearted sweet girl, who is as bright as she can be.  She is becoming a book worm (YES!!) and loves to write and memorize.  Where in the world did she come from?!?

This is my little Chotu!  (Hindi for small one!)  Levi is so anxious to do "school" with his big brother and sister, so we got his Letter of the Week from Confessions of a Homeschooler all printed out and ready to go.  He's just about to turn four, so this will be a fun thing for him to do this year.  He already knows all the letter sounds, so it's more to include him and make it fun than anything!

And then there's Miss Meryn, taking her aggression out with the do a dots, apparently. : ) 

Levi was not content to do just one page, as I had planned.  Oh well. : ) 

I am really hoping we can find a nearby play school for Meryn to go to in the mornings.  She needs a lot of attention, and I need to give a lot of time to teaching the older ones.  I so wish I could sit on the floor and play blocks and dolls and kitchen all day with no other cares in the world. Considering she only takes a 30-45 minute nap each day, I just can't get it all done in that time!

A quick shot from the Classical Writing Primer.  It seems a little similar to the idea of First Language Lessons/Writing With Ease but with more interesting content, and reading selections from the Aesop for Children.  Kiryn really enjoyed doing it today.  : ) 

Already loving the Tapestry of Grace Unit 1 lap books!  We learned today why we study history.  First day of school every year we read the same article in the Tapestry materials about how history teaches about peoples successes and failures, teaches us how to avoid their mistakes, or imitate their goodness, and how knowing history reveals God's greatness and glory.