What We’ve Been Up to In Our Homeschool Lately (Grades 1, 4, 6)

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These days I tend to write about our activities in separate posts, but occasionally I like to talk about the flow of our homeschool in general.  We have had a busy fall — not just because the kids are involved in a lot of activities, but also fitting in the other things that take up time (trips, doctors appointments, and on and on!).

We made a conscious decision to (try to!!)  keep our days as free and clear as possible because our evenings are so full.  LD is a competitive gymnast. He trains 4 days a week for 4 hours in the evenings. His season goes from November to April and we have to travel out of town for his meets, so it’s a time consuming sport.  DD continues to enjoy aerials which she does 3 or 4 times a week. DD resumed art class this fall at an amazing art studio nearby.  This year she goes to an evening class rather than doing the homeschool (day-time) class she did a couple of years ago.  She also is a Junior in Girl Scouts and she absolutely loves that!  Both of my older kids also sing in a children’s choir.  ED was in gymnastics (pre-team) last year, but decided she really wanted to try rhythmic gymnastics instead. Because of my health issues, it took months before we were able to let her try it out.  Last May she started rhythmic as a beginner… quickly jumping into pre-team and in October she joined the team.  Because rhythmic gymnastics involves different elements (ribbon, ball, clubs, etc.) she is not competing this year and is just learning the routines and stuff.  She LOVES it (with hearts and smiley faces!).  We’re glad she’s so happy!  She also does Daisies and has a fabulous Girl Scout leader. Her troop is extremely active.  I am a co-leader organizing the activities for the Brownies in the (joint) troop.

The other thing that has been demanding on our time has been various doctor’s appointments.  Just recently I went back to Johns Hopkins and got my new BAHA processor. Last year as many of you know, I had horrendous ear issues and six ear surgeries. In August I had to have my balance system (semi-circular canal

s,etc), the bones, and ear drum removed on my left side leaving me deaf in that ear (see this post). At the same time I had a procedure to place an abutment that in my skull. Now that the bone has grown back around that area, I could get the BAHA (bone anchored hearing aid).  I love it!  It’s not the same quality of sound as with my hearing aid (or ear!!), but I’m so grateful we have this type of technology!  LD says I look “cool” with the processor stuck on my head. I feel a little like a cyborg!

Because I had so many operations last year and was  sea-sick so much of last year, I was not as active as is normal for me. (I’m a long distance runner).  I had some problems with my hip and the pain was so intense I finally went to a specialist.  I have a bulging disc. LD is also nursing a minor injury (with his knee and Achilles tendon), so we’re both in PT twice a week. We bring a mountain of books for the girls.  They are really patient and do really well waiting for us.  Anyway,

A lot of people ask me if we do classes or co-ops with other homeschoolers.  We have some *amazing* wonderful homeschool friends and do trips and outings with them, but we do not do any formal classes with a group such as CC (classical conversations) or any of the other co-op options in our area.  That is partly because I *love* finding engaging activities for science and history. As it is, I find it challenging to fit in what I have planned!

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So what exactly are we up to? Science:It’s pretty apparent from our posts that we’re studying Earth Science. I shared the latest hands-on activities we’ve done. We also have watched an amazing program (on Netflix) called Amazing Planet. It talks about all the topics we’ve covered… Earth’s early geologic history;  the super-continent, Pangaea; plate tectonics and more.  We also borrowed one of the Great Courses videos from a friend to watch some of the lectures on Geology.  (The Great Courses are DVD courses with 30-40 lectures by renowned professors from around the country.)  I suspect these courses will be a great option for us as the kids get older, though the one we watched wasn’t as captivating as the one by Discovery.We still have volcanoes and earthquakes to discuss/cover in the next month.

History: We have been studying Native Americans this semester. As we move along, we’ve also been covering American geography.  After we finished with the Indians of the Southeast region, we branched off to do a mini-unit on the West.  I have a *lot* more to share about that, so I’ll just leave it at that!

Math: LD (age 11) is mostly working through Math Reasoning (Level G) and PreAlgebra by the Art of Problem Solving.  DD (age 9) is working on fractions and still practicing various math fact skills (long division, multiplication and so forth). Lately, she has mostly been using Math Reasoning (Level F) and Spectrum Math (Grade 5).  ED is also using Math Reasoning (Level B) and has been doing various mini-units with coins, skip-counting and time.

Writing: We still do writing workshop most every day and DD and ED continue to work through the Journal Writing Prompts I made back in September.

Grammar: LD and DD need to go over some basics of grammar. We did commas a while back and are now working on semi-colon rules.  (I’ll share that at some point soon!)  We need to get cracking with Writing with Ease.  ED is using Write Source skillsbook and a Kumon writing books. She’s making good headway with that.

Spelling: LD and DD continue to work through some spelling lists I’ve put together for them on Spelling City.  They wind up practicing about twice a week.  ED is working through All About Spelling (an *amazing* program!!).  She finished Level 1 and is now on Level 2.  DD recently asked when she would start doing spelling (from AAS) again.  Maybe in January?

German: The kids did the two online stories and we worked on comprehension and vocabulary with those.  In the past few weeks, we have only been using the German grammar book.  We seem to get to that just 3 times a week at the moment.

Reading: The kids all love to read.  Reading happens all the time. They each get up and read while eating breakfast. LD is  currently reading the Maze Runner series. DD devours books and has read the entire Percy Jackson series (and at least a half-dozen books about Greek mythology from the library) plus the Ranger’s Apprentice series and has started on  Dragonrider.  ED is making her way through the Magic Tree House books, but also reads various readers. She  read Gold Rush, Pompei, Wagon Train, The Hill of Fire and other short books.

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Index Card Review: We still are using index cards to go over terms, vocabulary, Civics questions and other information. It’s been a really great addition to our homeschool and helps me keep track of the specifics since they all have different skills/needs.

I talked about the changes we made earlier this fall to our routine here: Creating Daily Homeschool Procedures and Routines 

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Music: We’ve had a lot of fun with music this semester. The kids practice the piano most every day.  We’ve also been working on some songs in our homeschool. They have learned the Star Spangled Banner and My Country Tis of Thee.  They are also learning Blowing in the Wind by Bob Dylan. (I play the guitar and we all sing together.)

What does our day look like? It’s hard to describe what our day looks like. Sometimes we start separately; other times we all do a subject together.  Often we start on the subject that we didn’t get to (or skimped out on the day before!)  The kids all need Mom time where I quiz them to review information, practice skipping counting songs, and help them in certain subject areas (math, German, grammar).

Like most homeschoolers, we are quick to take advantage of other learning opportunities… I’ll share our neat adventures in Pennsylvania with you tomorrow!

~Liesl

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