Friday, October 21, 2011

A Tiny Little Blog Break

I'm ready for the change of block.

I think it was back in grade 1 that Donna Simmons of Christopherus recommended short one week science blocks. While we now have longer science blocks as is appropriate to the boys' ages, I still like these short little science blocks, especially when I plan them as outdoors blocks. We let our academic practice work slide for a week and spend hours outside everyday. In southern California autumn is a glorious time to be outdoors.

We'll read, spend time outside interacting with nature, and do a little math review. That's it. Yet the block will incorporate language arts, math, science, social studies (geography), and physical education (hiking). I wouldn't be surprised if J-Baby decided to add in fine arts by drawing pictures.

I don't plan to blog our next block; the point is to be outside and to unplug. At least, I don't plan to write any words, although I may post a few photos. I can tell from this last week of blog posts that I definitely am feeling tired and stressed and I think a little blog break will be just what I need to return to this space renewed and refreshed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ancient Greece I Day 18

We finished our first Ancient Greek History block today with a review of what we had learned thus far. I was unprepared for just how much my boys already knew about Greek history; this has happened to me before. They really like history and have listened to The Story of the World volumes 1, 2, and 3 multiple times, plus T-Guy chooses historical documentaries when they are allowed to watch educational programs (J-Baby chooses science documentaries so it balances out). I'm starting to feel a little nervous about the amount of time I have planned for Roman history as the spent close to a year reading the book When the World Was Rome with Papa.

Still, I know it isn't about learning facts. What they will take away from this first block on Ancient Greece are the activities, especially creating a labyrinth and "bull" jumping. Hopefully J-Baby will forget the writing fiasco. I think they enjoyed the work we did with Pythagorean mathematics. Most of all we settled back into the rhythm of focused lessons.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ancient Greece I Day 17

We had another very relaxed day. We spent some time talking about the Battle of Marathon. The boys built with LEGO, listened to their audiobook, practiced their instruments, helped with cooking (learning about grinding meat), watched the house painters, played Colosseum, and much more. They worked with numbers and did some more business math.

Tomorrow will likely be more of the same, plus PE. We're going to wrap up our Ancient Greece block as we prepare for a short block on Coastal Geography.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ancient Greece I Day 16

We had an unstructured day today. I'm still working on revamping my approach to writing and we had a major issue with the house painters today. It was noon before I came up for air.

Luckily, a new book had arrived early this morning: The LEGO Ideas Book. The boys spent the morning sorting and categorizing LEGO bricks as well as trying to figure out how to build some of the models in the book (the book has ideas, not instructions, which is exactly what I wanted). LEGO is a great toy for teaching a lot of different skills. The boys have now asked for small plastic bins so they can sort into more categories of bricks.

They also read books, listened to an audiobook, played outside, drew pictures, and practiced their instruments. The LEGO catalog arrived and they wrote out wish lists for their grandfather (who does his LEGO holiday shopping in October to get double VIP points), so that was penmanship practice, and they totaled the prices of what they wanted for a little math. J-Baby played with numbers a bit as well; I heard him telling T-Guy that he was "casting out nines".

Losing the morning (in part because I wanted to think about teaching writing, but mostly because of the painting debacle) made me realize that I really need to get on the ball with the boys' lesson binders. Even with a break from the main lesson writing they could have done penmanship, grammar, math practice, and spelling. The lesson binders help the boys be a little more independent in the mornings. If I have time this evening I will plan out tomorrow for them just in case we have issues again. I really hope we don't; I'd rather teach my boys when things are rough than deal with the house painters anyday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ancient Greece I Day 15

It has to be easier than this.

We began the morning with a grammar quiz on conjunctions, followed that with a math speed sheet, and worked in Life of Fred.

After that we worked on polishing the rough drafts the boys had written Wednesday. I could tell that J-Baby was upset with being edited, but didn't realize how upset he was. After all, I had told him how very well he had done and mostly corrected spelling and punctuation. However, he had lapsed into a Percy Jackson style of narration in one sentence and I told him it had to be changed as it didn't convey information relevant to the topic. We worked together to make the changes.

He went to his room and wrote one sentence for each paragraph he had previously written. He gave it to me knowing it wasn't enough and started crying.

Of course, I have no pictures of this morning. Of a boy lying in his bed sobbing and a mom curled up against him trying to make it alright and failing miserably. I wanted to cry too.

It makes me question the decision to hold back on writing when the boys were so resistant to it; maybe if I had always expected it I wouldn't be getting this. But forcing them to do things isn't who I am. Encouraging them, yes. Expecting it of them, yes. But not forcing.

I feel like I am back at square one trying to figure this out. How do I teach writing in a way that is engaging? How do I help them see how important it is to be able to express ideas in written form? How do I connect with something that I don't understand? I was a nature born writer. I would practice penmanship for fun (penmanship isn't writing of course). I journaled, I wrote stories, and I loved essay assignments. I even headed our high school writing team. I started college thinking I would pursue print journalism before changing schools and switching to and English Literature and Composition major.  Not literature alone; I wanted to write.

How do I reach deeper and see that this child felt attacked, felt that he wasn't good enough? How do I overcome the desire to only do things that he is naturally gifted in? How do I get all of those wonderful words and ideas out of his head and onto paper?

I have ideas and I will work at it. I don't see this as his failing, but as mine. I am the one who must do better. Still, it is a sad way to start a weekend.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ancient Greece I Day 14

Today we had a play date instead of a main lesson. Practicing social skills is just as important as any other skills we learn and we had the opportunity to help a friend.

The boys set to work designing their own Pokemon cards; that's unschooling in action.  We went to PE (a makeup session) and then came home and they worked on the cards again.

The boys sang, J-Baby did his piano practice, they played ball and frisbee outside, they listened to an audiobook, they helped cook, T-Guy poured over box scores, and we did a little freestyle math in the evening.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cooking Ahead -- Caramelized Onions

Okay, so I usually cook ahead, planning leftovers for other meals, etc., but today I made something that isn't a meal in and of itself.

Inspired by Val's post on Collecting The Moments ... One By One about Mise en Place and Onion Jam I decided to make a batch of Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions. This is something I used to do more often; I think I stopped when I was having difficulties eating onions and never started again once I was able to eat onions again. Which is a shame, because caramelized onions add so much to so many dishes. You can use them as a sauce on sautéed chicken, stir them into a soup, use them to top pizza, etc. Never mind what they do for dishes such as mujadara! Just thinking about it makes me wish I was eating lentils.

I tried to find my recipe and where I got it from, but it seems to have been on of those internet things. I think perhaps original credit might be due to Beth Hensperger, but looking at her recipe it isn't the same as mine.

Anyway, I peel and slice 4 - 5 pounds of onions and put them in the slow cooker. I add one stick of unsalted butter, cubed, and turn the cooker on high. After a couple of hours I give it a stir and turn the heat to low, allowing the onions to caramelize slowly all day. Later, I add salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of sugar, turn the slow cooker back to high, leave the lid ajar, and continue to cook down the onions until most of the liquid evaporates and I am happy with how they look and taste. With patience they develop a deep brown caramel color and an amazing caramelized flavor.

 This is how they start out; look at the deep yellow Kerrygold butter!
This is the finished product. The onions cook down considerably.

Today, inspired by Val, I added a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (because I use twice as many onions as she does) when I added the other seasonings.  So far I like what it is doing for the flavors.

There seems to be some debate on caramelizing onions on the stove versus using the slow cooker. The stove is faster and some think that the initial heat and contact with steel or cast iron adds to the flavor. The slow cooker is easy, takes less hands-on time, and makes it very difficult to burn the onions. I think next time I make them I will use my vintage Farberware Electric Dutch Oven and begin with medium heat before dropping the heat down and using it as a slow cooker. When I do I'll report on my findings here on the blog.

Ancient Greece I Day 13

We had an interesting morning - no singing, no grammar, no math.

I had assigned some reading to the boys yesterday, which they completed, and added one more section to read this morning. I had also told the boys what we would be doing for our main lesson this morning. Well, J-Baby did his reading and started in on his writing assignment right away. I decided not to interrupt his work and set T-Guy to his writing as well. These were rough drafts; we'll clean them up and rewrite them tomorrow afternoon.

I thought we'd get to our other subjects after the writing, however, our house was being pressure washed in preparation for exterior painting. We could hardly think with the noise! Then we found water had splashed in around several windows (after seeing it come in around the door and startle the big dog) so we had to grab towels and clean up the wet and at times muddy mess.

We did have PE, and the boys are going to do some more work this evening so that they can skip tomorrow's main lesson and share a project with a friend.

Ancient Greece I Day 12

We sang, we did grammar, we did math.

Math, math, math. I am realizing now how much we need to focus on math; it feels even more important than our main lesson material. We did a speed sheet and a Life of Fred lesson. I am seeing that J-Baby learns math concepts more rapidly than T-Guy and retains steps more easily, however T-Guy is faster with math facts and very good at memorizing them. I'm wondering if how we did math in the past was not the best way for T-guy; he loved the stories but he seems to be doing much better with me doing work on the big white board. He's more visual, whereas J-Baby is more auditory.

Our main lesson was about Athens and Sparta, and do my boys ever have a favorite. They detest the Spartans. But still we compared laws and culture and came away with a good discussion of the two societies.

Ancient Greece I Day 11 / The Pumpkin Patch

We made our annual trip to the pumpkin patch with our homeschool support group. This wonderful group of families has been together for seven years now and it has been wonderful to watch these children grow and also to grow in friendship with their mamas.

The funny thing about a field trip like this is that it is no longer about the field trip itself; it's about the ritual of the trip. The children already know all about bees, they've rolled countless beeswax candles, and they are much taller than the hay maze. The children are much bigger and the pumpkins seem smaller. But still we go.

 J-Baby feeding goats.
 T-Guy with our pumpkin haul.
 J-Baby with his warty pumpkin.
Most of the kids.  This is the "outtake", but I really like it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Still Working With This Injury

Well, I wanted to post today, but typing with this wrist brace is a tad difficult. I did get my pictures uploaded, so maybe tomorrow.

I actually don't know what is wrong with my wrist. A hairline fracture isn't evident but hasn't been ruled out. One doctor is leaning toward the idea that it is a fracture. The orthopedist thinks it more likely is some type of tendon or ligament injury as evidenced by a separation between the scaphoid and lunate bones in my right wrist. Either way, it hurts, and I am supposed to wear a brace for the next month. If it improves, great, if not, we move to an MRI.

In relation to homeschooling, my boys are going to be getting some serious cooking lessons. My favorite pots and pans are all heavy cast iron, and I'm not exactly wielding a chef's knife right now.

See, even my sauce pans are cast iron.  This vintage Descoware pot was my Grandfather's.

(BTW, I typed this without my brace.  Don't tell on me.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sorry, No Post Tonight

Between a dead camera battery and adjusting to typing with my wrist in a brace (the jury is still out on whether I have a hairline fracture or a soft tissue injury, but at least it is unlikely that it is repetitive stress) I am going to give myself a reprieve on today's blog post. I'll see you tomorrow!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Honoring Our Rhythm

I've written before about my family's natural rhythm and how that clashes a bit with homeschooling in the morning.  So far we've found a routine that is working with our rhythm and I thought I would share it.

Here is a graphic that shows the routine; you can pretty much ignore the times listed as they give me a basic idea but we don't truly live by the clock.
We're waking a little later that we had been; putting the Puppy Girl in the living room to sleep stopped her from waking us way too early.  It isn't unkind to her; she has completely adjusted her waking and no longer whines for us to come take her out.  While I'd like to see us waking earlier I am aware that the time change is in six weeks so I'm not worrying about it.  The chart shows my early waking time which is an ideal and has fallen off recently.  My goal is to be back to it by the time daylight savings time ends.

Papa showers.  We wake the boys and get started on breakfast.  While the boys had been eager to play together on waking now that J-Baby has been bitten by the fiction bug he often wants to read instead. We have breakfast and the boys do their morning hygiene and chores.  Then they have a 30 minute break which is more time for them to reconnect.

We're getting started with homeschooling around 10 a.m.  Right now the boys are really into it; we'll have to see if that sticks once they want to be doing something other than lesson work.  We start with whatever constitutes our organic circle that morning, do grammar and math practice, and then have a math lesson before beginning our main lesson work for the day.  Around 11:30 - 11:45 we wrap up the main lesson work and the boys do their spelling.

We get two hours of homeschooling done in the morning.  My goal is a minimum of three hours daily; this isn't a strict requirement per our state's educational code, but we do operate as a full time day school.  Since the law allows the compulsory attendance requirements to be met by three hours of tutoring per weekday I figure it is a good minimum number for our homeschooling.

We plan an hour of homeschooling in the afternoon.  This might be our secondary lesson, our literature class, P.E., make-up time, or park day.  We also do other things throughout the week, month, or year that count toward homeschooling time, such as music lessons and practice, field trips, nature walks and hikes, attending concerts and plays, etc.  For example, in October we will visit an apple orchard and will take an educational class at Legoland.

After our morning lessons we have lunch and quiet time.  Quiet time used to be listening to audio books, but now that the boys are older they will most likely read or hang out quietly in their bedrooms (separate bedrooms is brand new in our home).  After quiet time is when we have our afternoon lessons, which takes about an hour (as I wrote above).  We then have a nice period of unplanned "free" time.

By late afternoon it is time for me to work on any final dinner preparations; this is when the boys do their music practice.  J-Baby is in the dining room playing the piano so I am able to hear him and make corrections and reminders as necessary.  T-Guy practices guitar in his bedroom at the back of the house.

Papa comes home from work and we eat dinner and then clean up.  Usually we have some free time in the evenings, although some evenings we work on physics with Papa (more homeschooling hours) and once a week we go to the farmer's market.  At 11 and 12 years of age the boys go to bed at 8:30 and are allowed to read quietly for 30 minutes.  It is pretty early compared to their peers but I believe it is what they need, and going into the teen years children often need more sleep, not less.

After that there is a little time for Papa and I to reconnect and decompress before heading to bed ourselves.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How I Plan

The question of planning came up at the Homespun Waldorf forum and I decided to do a post here since I really don't know how to post photos there without using a hosting service such as Flickr.

Anyway, I sit down with my materials and a calendar and plan out the year. Not what we are going to do each day, but the block progression and how long each block will be. This is the chart I did for this year:

This gives me a basic plan to go from. You'll notice that we have a different lesson each afternoon; this is new for us this year.  Previously we had an afternoon/secondary lesson that we did four afternoons a week for two to four weeks; lessons such as cooking, knitting, painting, weaving, sewing, modeling, etc. While I love that format I've found that this year we need the afternoon time for other things such as our PE class.  So now we do a themed afternoon lesson on Mondays; I didn't want to lose handwork so we do that some evenings in a relaxed manner. We're trying it out; if it doesn't work we will go back to doing literature during our mornings and we will devote three days a week to the afternoon lesson.

I also outline each block at the beginning of the year. Since we are using Live Education I just refer to the lessons I have chosen from their materials. Here is the lesson block for Ancient Greece I:

These block outlines are really important for me. I mark days that we have special celebrations and days that Papa has off. Since we aren't doing every single lesson in the Live Education materials I can't just go in order without a plan. Also, if a lesson is taking less time than expected I can decide whether or not to move ahead, and if it takes longer I can decide which remaining lesson we can skip.

We do have to have some flexibility. For example, I planned the above block and since I did that our homeschool group planned our annual trip to the pumpkin patch for this coming Monday. Looking at the lessons I saw that I could combine Topic 5: Lessons 1 and 2 on Tuesday so that is how we will manage the field trip. Practice work, grammar, and new math learning can be skipped for one day; I won't be so rigid that we miss out on doing things.  But I can think like an unschooler as well, practicing math facts or grammar skills in the car on the way to the pumpkin patch, or even just singing seasonal songs.

Typically I sit down on the weekend and look over the week's lessons in-depth (using the outline shown above). I'd like to do this for the month but it hasn't worked out that way yet. I make a note of any supplies that I need to gather or purchase and decide which source books we'll use for each lesson, marking the passages I need to read. If I am going to do a chalkboard drawing for the block I try to get it started before the first day of the block. I also determine if I am going to do any crayon drawings ahead of time and whether I need to look for images or other sources on the computer so that I can print them out ahead of time.

For grammar I print out the sheets from the Daily Grammar ebook we are using; we just go in order so I print about one month's worth at a time. I have the Making Math Meaningful speed sheets printed already. We go through Life of Fred in order so that doesn't take much planning, and I don't write it out as I can't know how many times the boys will need to attempt a bridge before they are ready to move on. Sometimes they nail it with one bridge and sometimes they need to do all five.

For literature we choose one book per month; it doesn't follow our block schedule. I think I may have written before that I am working with the boys on developing a literature class to teach, and since most classes run monthly that is how we are doing it. This month the are reading Rick Riordan's The Son of Neptune. The idea is to teach classic literature, but I hadn't chosen a book to start with and this one arrived so we went with it.

Other than doing my chart and outlines on the computer I don't actually plan on the computer. Having it on paper works for me. I have a teacher's plan book and in it I keep track of what we are doing by subject. I enter planned lesson work as well as things that simply come up (the way an unschooler might record learning). If there is a project I would like us to do I put it on a sticky note and then I move it to the week that I will need to get supplies. Then I move it to the day I might need to do prep work, and finally to the day I expect to do the project. I use sticky notes to remind me of field trips we might want to do, etc.

I used to plan a formal circle, but the boys hated formal circle time.  So we switched to a more organic circle.  I asked myself, what is the heart of circle?  To me a large part of it is the coming together after the separation of sleep.  So we eat breakfast together as a family.  We send Papa off to work and do our chores.  Then as the three of us come together for lesson work we do a few more relaxed activities that bring us into the frame of mind for lessons. We might walk if the weather is good, working on verses we are memorizing as well as reviewing oral math facts.  Or we might stay in the house and sing, working on rounds and harmonies.

I do think that a huge benefit if homeschooling is adapting day-to-day.  If a lesson is falling flat I will improvise.  I've been known to jettison an entire block if it just isn't working for us. I also refuse to worry; it isn't the end of the world if we don't get something done.

My planning takes a lot less time than it looks like from this post. I put in a couple days before the homeschool year begins and then I prep for an hour or so each week.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ancient Greece I Day 10

I almost forgot to get this post up -- oops!

We started this morning with ... singing! You were expecting grammar and math, weren't you? We got to that after the singing. We sang a few seasonal songs and then worked on rounds using Row Row Row Your Boat. Wow, we haven't sung in rounds in awhile, and we're rusty.

Next up were Daily Grammar and a Making Math Meaningful Fast Fact Sheet. J-Baby can't finish the fact sheets in five minutes (nor in six minutes, which is what I gave them) and he was a little discouraged today. All I could do is tell him that it will come in time.

We did Life of Fred math using the white board again; today the boys got to come up and do problems on it. They were so excited. We breezed through the bridge and I feel confident that we have done enough review to start new material next week.
 J-Baby works on long division. Papa has asked me if all homeschoolers wear tie-dye.

We finished up our study of Pythagoras by doing a drawing of pebble squares as our book told us the Pythagoreans had done. Not that they had drawn, that they had made number squares out of pebbles on the sand.
 T-Guy's drawing. Yes, he is twelve. No, he really doesn't love drawing.
J-Baby's drawing. Yes, the 5 is backward. No, he won't use crayons in his drawings.

One might wonder how after five years of the Waldorf grades (or Enki -- the focus on drawing is the same) my boys drawings haven't evolved into the masterpieces one sees in books and on blogs. I don't really know. The boys put more effort into their drawings in the early grades than they do now. It's okay though; now isn't the time for me to start caring what other think.

We had a great week; we're all settled into the new homeschool year and it's going really well.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ancient Greece I Day 9

We started the morning with - you guessed it - grammar and math.  However, today we got to use our shiny new white board during our math lesson.  Or rather, math review, as we were working on a Life of Fred bridge.

Hanging the white board was difficult.  There might have been swearing involved, and there most certainly was complaining, along with huffing, puffing, and grunting.  We had to drill though metal, people, with a drill bit that wasn't fully up to the task.  But it is installed, it's level, and I'm certain that it isn't going to fall down.

Here it is in all beauty:
Normally I wouldn't leave a poster up, but I was so excited that the board came with two paper holders so that we can use it as an easel!

I want to cover it when it isn't in use, so I am brainstorming ideas for that.  I thought maybe we could make a flannel cover so that we can also use it as a felt board (I have a lovely piece of hand-dyed flannel that we could use), but that would have to come up and down daily. Stiffening a piece of attractive fabric and attaching it with magnets might work best.  Or we could do a large water-color painting or two and hang those.  There is no real rush to get it covered, but I'd like to have it done before our Halloween gathering. Hmmm ... maybe we can do seasonal coverings.

Today's lesson in our Ancient Greek History block was squaring numbers (something the Pythagoreans did).  There are actually two lessons given in the materials; one is having the children memorize the squares and draw them, and the other is having them make them with manipulatives.  For reasons unknown to me, the directions were to draw them first.  I didn't like that, so today we talked about what a squared number is, drilled the squares up to 12x12 (they know them backward and forward), and used our Cuisinaire rods to visualize the squares and then to build pyramids.
 Clearly this was standing work.  They started with the 1cm cubes and then moved to rods.
 J-Baby had made the Lego pyramid earlier this week and wanted it to be part of the photo shoot.
The shadow was pretty cool once the afternoon sun started shining in.

Cuisinaire rods have been part of our homeschool since grade 1.  A few times I have thought to get rid of them and I even boxed them up once, but we always find a use for them.

During our afternoon makeup time we worked on the golden ratio form again, and struggled, again.  T-Guy huffed and puffed (I wonder who he gets that from) threw down his pencil, whined, and declared it impossible.  I set him to practicing making circles with the compass while J-Baby and I continued our work. The frustrated sounds continued.  Finally I told T-Guy that he could be excused as his frustration had gotten the better of him and I thought he could use a break. He looked at me, grabbed his compass and some 1" graph paper, and tried really hard to do the drawing.  It wasn't perfect, but he did it. I wish I could bottle that magic but I don't really know what I did other than give him permission not to do it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ancient Greece I Day 8

We woke up to winter.  Seriously, cold temps, overcast days, and rain are what we usually get in winter, not fall.  Fall is generally warm, dry, and sunny. But we are happy to have the rain while it lasts. We started our homeschool morning with a Java Log in the fireplace and candles lit on the mantel.

We did grammar and math.  I'm starting to feel like a broken record.  In general, every one of our homeschooling days begins with grammar and math.  It's something we took away from those two months at the beginning of our last homeschool year; grammar and math happening every morning works best for us.

Our main lesson was drawing Pythagoras's Golden Ratio in the form of a star and pentagon.  To keep it real, we struggled. It seemed so much easier looking at it in the book and I realize now that I should have practiced on my own before the lesson.  It's okay though; it can be good to model staying calm when things aren't quite going as planned.

The reality is that working with rulers and compasses on plain paper is a little tricky.  Marking off one inch intervals on a line isn't exactly precise when using a #2 pencil.  Compasses move when you use them.  My second attempt was much better, although I plan to redo it.
I ended up printing out 1" graph paper for the boys to work with, to make the measuring easier. The boys didn't want the drawings they did today to go into the blog; they are going to redo them Thursday afternoon during our make-up time.

P.E. was cancelled because of the rain, but none of us minded all that much. It gave us the opportunity to have a quiet afternoon. T-Guy's long awaited copy of Rick Riordan's The Son of Neptune (Book 2 in The Heroes of Olympus series) arrived this morning and J-Baby settled in with a wonderful iPad app based on Richard Dawkin's new book, The Magic of Reality.  It is full of really cool science!

I've found that I am very much missing singing from Mary Thienes-Schunemann's Naturally You Can Sing Sing a Song of Seasons, so I placed an order for another copy and it should be here tomorrow.  I remember some of the songs and have been singing those, but others have slipped away from my memory.  I also think J-Baby might enjoy playing some of the tunes on the piano.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ancient Greece I Day 7

Another smooth, easy-peasy day.  Of course, it helps that the boys already know a lot about Pythagoras. I forgot that they covered him last year when they did The Story of Science.  Well, I filled them in a bit on the Pythagoreans and some of Pythagoras's views on the transmigration of souls and why he and his followers were vegetarian.  It was interesting to learn that Pythagoras allowed women to study and was considered one of the first to advocate equality for the sexes (within reason, I'm sure).  And while he wasn't explicitly against slavery he didn't condone hitting slaves.  He and his followers held themselves to a very high standard (believing this was how they could reach enlightenment and no longer reincarnate).

We did grammar (Conjunction-Junction, What's Your Function?), a MMM speed sheet, and the main lesson.  Spelling was out as there was something odd going on with the computer.  (Note: We learned about conjunctions using Daily Grammar. My reference to Schoolhouse Rock while writing the blog post reminded me of the video and we watched it then.  No, I don't use TV to teach grammar.)

No photo today, but you might enjoy this.  We certainly did!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ancient Greece I Day 6

A new week, a new attitude.

Hoemschooling today was fantastic.  Yes, T-Guy still got frustrated with adding fractions (review work), but I stayed calm and patient and remembered that my job is to teach.  If he needs more review, he needs more review.  If he forgets the steps we go over them again.  If he gets upset we slow down.  It isn't his fault that he doesn't understand fractions they way I did as a child or the way J-Baby does.  Plenty of people struggle with fractions.  It's okay.

We had a grammar quiz and T-Guy was happy to say goodbye to prepositions for now (J-Baby really likes grammar).

The boys did the Making Math Meaningful speed sheet and we did another bridge test in Life of Fred (where the above frustration occurred).

All this week we'll be learning about Pythagoras as part of our Ancient Greek History block. Today we drew circles:
 J-Baby has success with his circles on the first attempt.
 T-Guy and I had to sit side-by-side and redo his circles.  Here he is coloring them in.
Here is his second attempt - much better!

The boys did their spelling and we were done!  The morning really sped by and we all enjoyed it. I hope there rest of this week is as successful.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Our Learning Space

I am so incredibly happy with how well our learning space is working out for us, and how nice it looks. I guess I always worried that this room wouldn't look "right" if it didn't have formal furniture in it; I am rather pleased to have been proven wrong.

Anyway, it is a work in progress.  But here is what we have so far:

 The piano, which used to be in the living room.  This was given to us by Papa's step-brother. We're planning to put up a large world map in place of the watercolor painting.
 One of our black boards, mounted vertically.  With nothing on it, because I haven't gotten around to doing a drawing yet.  Sometimes I write an inspirational phrase instead.  The board is mounted with Velcro tape so I can take it down to draw.  It works beautifully.
The armoire, which now houses our computer.  It was a hand-me-down from a friend. The black board has been mounted to it for some time now, and it has been placed in three different rooms.
 A close-up of the painting my great-aunt did for my grandmother.  I put here mostly to remind me that I can't be perfect, but it also reminds me that the boys can't be either.
 The table, viewed from the living room side.  It's just perfect.  Because we bought it used it already has some paint splatters and indentations on the surface, so I don't have to obsess over ruining it. 

 The typewriter corner with the library basket and the boys' portfolios.  The typewriter and stand were thrift store finds.
 The table, looking toward the hall and living room.  I made the centerpiece with a piece of vintage thrifted Pyrex, some river rock, and tea light candles.
 Our Trofast units, which move all over the house as needed.  Three were hand-me-downs and the others in the house we purchased. The plastic bins hold art supplies; they aren't pretty but it is far easier to grab a bin of paints or modeling beeswax than to pull them off a shelf.  This wall is where we will be installing the white board.
 The corner is where we store our art clipboards, painting boards, black boards, etc.
 I love this little table top easel!  Before I had black boards I would post my crayon drawings on it for the boys, and also their copy work, so that they could practice looking up, holding information in their minds, and copying it.
One last shot with the table, armoire, and typewriter.  The room isn't very big, but the coziness is nice.

This room just works!  We have home schooled all over the house and no room has worked as well as this one.  The breakfast nook is too small and we had to clear our things at lunch time even if we weren't finished.  The back bedroom felt cave-like, and the master-bedroom-turned-family-room (and now returned to master bedroom) was an uninspiring, ugly mess.  Here we have the beauty of the wood trim, the redwood trees through the windows (yes, my property has coast redwoods and palm trees), the gleaming wood floors, the coved ceiling, the gorgeous light, and is centrally located in the house.  As a bonus it is still a great room to share a meal in even if we can't seat more than six people at the table.