Friday, January 21, 2011

Week 20, I Think

With packing, moving, unpacking, holidays, and birthday, I have no idea which week of school we are suppose to be on.  I think it is week 20. 

We are finally back into full swing, and it feels good to be back.  I have a new schedule we're trying out.  It's working well so far,and I'll share about it on another post.  Sam loves it, which isn't a shock because he prefers having a set routine.  I've decided that my old method of keeping records works much better for me, and I can't wait to get back to it next year.  In the meantime, I'll have to go with a modified hybrid of the two.

With us being reasonably settled in (the garage is still full of boxes) and school being back on track, hopefully I'll be able to get back to blogging regularly.  If you're on Facebook and want to friend me, I post little bits and pieces on there almost every day, let me know.

Here's how our week went.

Language Arts

We analyzed a couple of sentences in our grammar practice books.  We've been going through them together; I figure the extra review that comes from watching the other sibling's work won't hurt them.  We covered poetic feet and meter in poetry.  This covered the basic four feet they already know and several more rare poetic feet.  The kids are working on their rough drafts for a story based around the Boston Tea Party.  This is a new writing model using narrative writing rather than expository writing.  Rather than writing each paragraph on a topic with clear topic and concluding sentences, they have to cover characters and setting in the beginning, conflict in the middle, and climax and resolution in the end.  While they are working on three paragraph stories, they are also learning that this writing style can use as many paragraphs as needed. 


Mika finished Life of Fred: Fractions on Monday.  This book is self-teaching and self-pacing.  The student reads through the story and is suppose to think through the information because it doesn't follow a strictly formulaic approach to math.  Periodically, there are "bridges" or mini-tests the student takes.  If you pass with 9 out of 10 questions or better, you move on to the  next chapter.  If not, there are four more bridges to attempt.  At the end of the book, there is a final bridge with 15 questions.  It took Mika all five attempts and some discussion of the questions missed in the previous attempts to pass the final bridge.  But she did pass with a 100%.   She liked the book, but I'm not sure if I'd recommend it.  She still seems pretty iffy on fractions.  Regardless, we have moved back to doing Math-U-See Zeta, and I'll keep a close eye on the fractions review questions.  I'm also considering buying another fraction curriculum for her to cement the information.

Sam, on the other hand, isn't having much trouble.  Last week, he learned to solve simultaneous equations with graphing.  This week he's solving them with substitution.  He did the first page in an odd manner but got all of the answers correct.  We corrected the steps, however, because he was basically completing question 3 before question 2 in order to answer question 2 (the problems walk you through the method).

He's also enjoying his Chinese abacus he got as a birthday present from a friend.  He can add, subtract, multiply, and divide with it already.  He also figured out how to add and subtract in binary with it.


At home, we read about the Mughal Emperors of India: .  Three of the emperors we covered definitely didn't have any self-esteem issues; they took on the titles of World Seizer, King of the World, and Conqueror of the World.  We also learned about the building of the Taj Mahal.  We discussed the review questions, and the kids completed their map work for the chapter.

On Monday, we took the day off to visit the Washington State History Museum.  We spent a majority of our time there trying to complete a scavenger hunt in the Great Hall of Washington History.  Flash photography isn't allowed so I wasn't able to get many good pictures.

In this photo, Mika and Sam are searching for the year that goes with the scavenger item that they found.  These scavenger hunts at the history museum are hard! 


We started a new chapter in zoology covering marine dinosaurs.  We've read about ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, pliosaurs, mosasaurs, nosasaurs, and a couple of others.  Tomorrow we'll be heading outside when it isn't raining to measure one of them out on the cul-de-sac with chalk.

In Chemistry, we completed an experiment from last week's chapter on separating mixtures.  In our experiment, we used paper chromatography to determine which colors of ink are used to make the colors of ink in our pens.  We tested black, blue, green, and red.  I also made an "unknown" using red and green mixed together to test.  

These are our results in order from left to right: unknown, green, red, black, and blue  The black results were not what we expected.  According to the teacher's manual, the black should indicate all or nearly all of the colors but ours only came out purple and gray-black.

We also headed out for a brief visit to the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.  We live 10 minutes away now, and I've been wanting to stop by since before we moved.  We checked out the visitor's center and then walked the 1 mile boardwalk loop.  During are quick trip we saw a deer, a great blue heron, ducks, geese, and a couple of unidentified waterfowl.  It was close to closing so we didn't have much time to dilly-dally, but I bought a annual pass so we can go back often.

Foreign Language

Both kids are back to working online approximately half an hour a day.  Mika is on unit 3 of 4 already.  She's only put in 20 hours!  I don't see how that can be considered half a year of foreign language.  Sam is almost done with unit 2.  He's put in exactly double the time as Mika, but he's also working in a much harder language.

Fine Art

We completed a drawing lesson covering density from Draw Squad.  The drawing also included practice with surface and shading.  Sam did a particularly good job on his.

You can't see it in the picture, but there are hills in the background that are much lighter and have less detail.  That's the density part.  His little people have signs arguing which planet they are on.

Mika's birthday party included some art, too.  The girls made beaded bracelets as a party activity that they could take home.  They all enjoyed it.

Here are the bracelets they made.  This was also a lesson in career education, a required subject in Washington state, because the bracelets can be sold online and at bazaars.

While we were at the history museum, we took the opportunity to stop by the bridge of glass and see some of Dale Chihuly's work.

We also stopped by City Blocks, the studio of Certified Lego Professional Dan Parker.  He wasn't there so we peeked through the windows.  I thought this Lego train set up was amazing!  If you are ever near Freighthouse Square, stop by and see his work.


The kids went to their swim classes.  We are in a different class time with our old teacher temporarily.  It's been so nice to be back with her.  She's awesome.  We are planning on moving to her class for the rest of the school year. 

Sam is still attending taekwondo three times a week.  He recently got is last colored belt; he's looking forward to getting his black belt in the coming year.

We also visited the Regional Athletic Complex on Wednesday after school.  Because it was a half day for the public schools, there were lots of kids there.  All three of the bigger kids found someone to play with while I kept an eye on Madelynn.

We've recently started something new during meal times.  At breakfast, I read out loud from Meet the Bible: A Panorama of God's Word in 366 Daily Readings and Reflections.  I love this devotional.  It goes through the Bible from beginning to end.  While it doesn't cover all of it, it does cover a good portion of it.  Most days it has a select passage from the Bible followed by discussion about the passage and a accountability question.  At dinner, I read out of Voice of the Faithful, which is a collection of a year's worth of stories from missionaries all over the world.  After that, we've been reading from The How Rude! Handbook of Family Manners for Teens.  It's been good for laughs and discussion, and most of it is appropriate enough for the kids.  We'll pick something else to read together after we're done with it.

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Faith said...

Wow, you were really busy! I love the museum trip and the chemistry experiment.

I have been eying that How Rude! book. I think my kids could use (another) reminder in manners.

Faith said...

Wow, you were really busy! I love the museum trip and the chemistry experiment.

I have been eying that How Rude! book. I think my kids could use (another) reminder in manners.

Regena said...

I love looking at all your projects! It looks to me like you haven't missed a beat while getting settled in. You have a wonderful museum resource, too! Wish we had something so nice here....