Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The End of the Holiday...

Almost all our school materials have now arrived. Woohoo! The kids are all ready and eager to begin schooling, so I reckon we'll kinda get going on Thursday, and hope some creases will be ironed out before we get a good start on Monday.
We tend to stop working over school holidays - not because we have to, but because we have so many cousins in and out that it would be really difficult to carry on schooling. So our term times loosely follow local school terms.

For the Wee Guy, we are using:


Abeka for Maths and Language. He's now onto his third year of Abeka Arithmetic and Language. It works well for us, the lessons are clear and very easy to follow. 

The girls are using Abeka's DVDs for Maths.


Mystery of History for, er, History! We haven't used this curriculum before, but it's set out in such a way as to be used with all three kids. For example, after Lesson 91 has been read (and talked about), these questions follow:

Activities for Lesson 91

91A—Younger Students
Write a story about what it would be like to have a pet elephant. What would you want him to do for you? Where could he take your family? Where would he sleep, and how much would he eat?  To make your story believable, read some information about elephants in the encyclopedia and weave these facts into your story.

Dictate the story to your teacher and include it in your Student Notebook 
under “Africa: Tunisia.” (Tunisia is the modern country in Africa where Carthage used to be.)

91B—Middle Students
Pretend you are a soldier with Hannibal’s army. Write a diary page of what it is like to travel with the elephants. Although it was not a funny expedition, you could write your diary page in a humorous fashion. Use your imagination. 
File your page under “Africa: Tunisia.”

91C—Older Students
1.  Write a synopsis of each of the three Punic Wars. These wars were considered pivotal to history, and the tactics of Hannibal were ingenious. Pay attention to the name Scipio. 
h ere was more than one. File your research under “Africa: Tunisia.”

2.  Are you a war buff ? If you like battle scenes, research the details on the Battle of Zama, Scipio versus Hannibal. It was quite a showdown.

And so, there are a variety of questions suitable for the different age groups. 

One area of study I am keen that they improve on is the ability to read, understand, chew over, and regurgitate - whether in writing or orally.

For Bible as a subject, the girls are going to use The Truth that Frees as a teaching tool. 

Much of what might come under the category of Language/English/Literature will be a selection of books and materials 

- they will listen to lectures, take notes and answer a question I've set them: this question may ask for an essay, for a summary, or for a discussion on the topic.

- we will read chapters of books together and, again, I will set relevant questions for them. We plan to carry on with Ruth: Her Story for Today, which I posted about here.

- they will read and write book summaries, reviews, or they will write essays connected with the book. Again, the synopsis of some of their reading books will be in the form of discussion - of questions and answers, of thought and opinions.

Again, we will be using Pudewa's Excellence in Writing materials to help with writing style.


Katie is keen on drawing, and definitely has some talents in this area that did not come from me. She is going to use Artistic Pursuits to develop some of her artistic skills.

She will do Art with the Wee Guy too.


The girls will use Abeka DVDs for Science. 

The Wee Guy is using Abeka's science curriculum for his age group.

Here's a selection of some of the books we'll be using this coming year.

And now, it's 'hop to it'... there's work to be done!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Over the summer

I sometimes get asked if we "do school" over the summer. The short answer is "yes". I find that it is not helpful to have children at home/round the house with "nothing to do" for too long, so we do have a structure to the summer "holidays".

Every year is different, but this year our schedule is something like this. We get up late (compared to during term time) and everyone has more free time. And we go to bed later.

The younger six do reading and writing until lunchtime; then they all go outside for an hour. After that, they are free to do whatever they want (within reason) until we start to get ready for supper in the evening.

Every week we have at least one outing or event to attend - we try to do things that we don't do during term time.  We also try to meet up with friends, and we still have our regular swimming and gymnastics lessons. (French, sailing and football lessons stop for the summer.)

The younger six children are competing in the Reading Challenge run by our local library (conveniently next door) so we are focussing on reading. One of the older children helps me by reading to or with the two youngest for an hour+ a day.  I also try to make sure that they do some writing each day, even if it is simply copy-work. Each child keeps a list of the books they have read, and I've promised them a monetary incentive depending on how many they get through. I vet their book choices, they may not read below their level simply to get through more books more quickly, nor are they allowed to choose books they've already read, or seen as movies (these are my rules, not the library's!)

The library has a good range of children's classics as well as children's versions of adult classics.  And it also has all the newer, trendy, "fantasy" type fiction books as well.  They had a popular children's author come to talk to the children about his work the other day, we really enjoyed listening to him, and it was interesting for the children to meet a real author.

Another older child is also helping me by typing up lists of who has done what over the year, which will be the basis of my annual education report. This helps me to pinpoint areas of weakness, and the children will sometimes work on a topic that has been neglected over the year, or practise something which they found difficult. For example, Annabelle (10) has to spend time each day working on  spelling, and couple of the others have workbooks that they hadn't finished.

As the children get older, I find I don't need to organise them so much (well, that does depend on the child, to be honest!), but instead need to discuss goals with them and let them find their own ways to get there. With younger children I find that organisation is *so* important if I am going to achieve anything.

So, over this summer we've had a loose sort of schedule involving mostly reading and writing, some catching up in other areas and outings we wouldn't otherwise do. And I take time reviewing what has been learned (or not) and planning for the coming year.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Two Neat Sites, and a Question

I just came across links to these two educational websites.

This one helps you comprehend the size of an atom.  Quite fascinating!
Cell Size and Scale

And this one has a short educational video for each element on the periodic table.
The Periodic Table of Videos

These are both interesting and useful websites that I would like to use as supplements when it comes time to study biology and chemistry with my children.  But there are many, many interesting educational websites like these that I would like to use in the future.  I'm not really sure how to keep track of them all!

So here's a question for other homeschooling parents.  How do you keep track of educational websites that you would like to use in the future?  There are so many fantastic resources online, how do you organize them all?  Any thoughts about the internet as an educational resource would be appreciated. :)