Thursday, September 30, 2010

Black Widow

Don't find these around the house very often!

Daniel found this one on some trash that he picked up from a neighbor's yard.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Free USC Equestrian Events

Daniel got a schedule of USC athletic events a few weeks ago and told us about a free equestrian event that was being held this weekend. Arianna has always loved horses and both of the girls have been asking for riding lessons. We thought this event would be a good chance to see horses up close and watch them perform and compete.

USC owns a farm called One Wood Farm out in Blythewood which is about 20 minutes from our house. We were there on Friday afternoon when mostly English riders were performing.

The grounds were beautiful and all the stables were open so we walked around and petted other horses while we were there.

Here's the link for directions, schedule, etc. for the USC equestrian team. All events are free!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Ellen!

Our little girl turned 9 yesterday. She wanted an ice cream cake so I made one with soy ice cream and whip cream. Mimi came down to celebrate with us.
She was so excited and surprised to open her new aquarium. We took her to the pet store to pick out all the decorations and live plants last night. We'll go get the fish later tonight. We've set it up in their room for enjoyment all night long.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Our Day

I find it interesting to read about how other homeschool families spend their day. Here's a glimpse of what we are doing these school days.

Even though every day is a little different because of dance, coop, field trips, or errands, we keep the same routine. I think the pattern is important for our sanity. We keep all our school books together on the shelf in the dining room where we sit first thing in the morning. I write down a list of things they need to get done every day for a week and they keep it with their stack of stuff.

The girls usually wake up around 7-7:30. I like to get up before them so I can have coffee and read news and blogs while I wake up. Two mornings a week we have ballet classes that I teach so we try to get started with school work by 8:30. On the days we don't have dance we start at 9:00. I don't care what they do between breakfast and when we sit down for school work but they have to have done all their chores -- brush teeth, get dressed, straighten room -- by the time we get started.

We always begin with math.
I've found that since math takes so much concentration the girls do much better if they tackle it first. We use Math U See for our curriculum. Ellen is on Delta which is the 4th book and she is over half way through it. She is working on long division, finding the area of triangles and parallelograms, etc. Arianna is about 1/3 of the way through the 3rd book which is Gamma. She's memorizing multiplication facts and is just about to start all the hard ones--4s, 6s, 7s, 8s and 9s. I hear my inner cheerleader coming out a lot these days during math and especially with Ellen in division. I'm saying things like, "You can do it, I know the problem is long but isn't it cool how all these numbers fit together like a puzzle." I always liked math so I'm trying to pass on my enthusiasm.
Next is Language arts--Grammar, Spelling, cursive, copywork, writing.
We usually do 2-3 of those things listed above every day. We've been using the curriculum First Language Lessons for 4 years so we are beginning the 4th volume. The curriculum spends a lot of time memorizing parts of speech lists and definitions, memorizing classic poetry from authors such as Poe, Wordsworth, Stevenson, etc., and diagramming sentences. They both actually enjoy the structure and are very good at it. We chant the lists and poetry and seriously have fun saying them out loud together. It's very rewarding to be able to recite a list or classic poem.

They both do a page or two from their Spelling Workout books and cursive workbooks. Again they enjoy writing so this is a fun thing for them. Arianna asks to write in her cursive book even during her free time.

For copywork I keep a list of famous quotes that they can choose from to copy. This helps them learn the structure and sound of good sentences. It also increases their vocabulary and improves spelling.

On some days I ask them to summarize a part of something they are reading or something from our History reading for extra writing practice.

Reading and instrument practice is next.
We set the timer for 30 minutes and one reads while the other practices. For this read alone time they have to choose something that is of good quality and approved by me. Ellen, for example, read through the Chronicles of Narnia last year and is now on George MacDonald's fantasies. Arianna is still on beginning chapter books like the rainbow fairies or Magic Treehouse. No comics during this time. The girls read at other times of the day but this is the only required reading they do alone.

I'm still teaching Arianna violin and Ellen piano. I'm just one step ahead of them on these instruments so I'm working on finding someone to come to the house for lessons.

We do Latin at least 2 days a week. Ellen started last year using the book Latin for Children as our guide. Arianna is starting this year. We are moving pretty slow for now but I hope to pick back up with it over the next few weeks. They like learning another language.

History & Science
I don't have a specific curriculum for science yet. The girls get enough from nature studies, animal studies, baking, gardening, etc. that we encounter and experience in our daily lives.

I am very excited about history this year. We are learning about Colonial America through historical fiction literature studies. A few moms and I have collected book lists from libraries, textbooks and websites. We have pulled together a great stack of books and will be reading them at home and discussing them as a group during coop. We'll also be doing colonial crafts and other projects. I'm going to do a separate post with more information about this subject.