Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Grecian Fresco

We are starting our study of the ancient Greeks and it is going very well. We are using the Story of the World - The Ancients Vol. 1 as our core and we are using the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World, Ancient Greece: 40 Hands-on Activites to Experience this Wondrous Age along with books we find at the library to enhance the study.

This week we are focusing on the Minoans of Crete and one of the activities I found in our books was to do a fresco painting using plaster of Paris. This makes it very easy to include ds(3) in our activities.

Here is the finished product.

Notebook in Time - March 26, 2008

I am THANKFUL...for so many things. My husband works hard, my kids are healthy and warmer weather is approaching.

I am WEARING...jeans and sweater

I am READING...Twist of Faith by Anne Beiler (founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels)

I am HOPING...we can sell our house soon so we can purchase a piece of property.

I am SEEING...a stack of library books on the ancient Greeks. We are just beginning to study them.

I am where until this evening. My kids have their Wednesday night church activity and hubby and I take that time for a quick date each week. A cup of coffee or something like that.

Won't you join me in your own "Notebook in Time"? Just cut and paste and add YOUR own plans for today!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In Praise of Copywork

Texts of Laws and Regulations of the Pennsylvania School Code

Act 169
Section 1327.1

(1) At the elementary school level, the following courses shall be taught: English, to include spelling, reading and writing; arithmetic; science; geography; history of the United States and Pennsylvania; civics; safety education, including regular and continuous instruction in the dangers and prevention of fires; health and physiology; physical education; music; and art

My focus this morning is on language arts.

Confession: In our homeschool last fall, I attempted to get a boxed curriculum and apply it to my children. This turned out to be stressful for both the children and me. We started right after Labor Day and I finally threw in the towel at the end of October. I couldn't do it anymore. The children came to the table each day rolling their eyes with slumped shoulders and trudged through the list of assignments for the day.
Even though my daughter requested doing a spelling list each week, it turned into tears every time I had her copy or practice her words. And the weekly test - well I won't even get into that. After lots of reflection and prayer, I decided that Charlotte Mason was the only way to go. Even though I strongly believe in Charlotte Mason and her methods, I don't know what possessed me to go elsewhere.

I poured over books discussing the CM method as well as the original 6 volume set and our household was back on track.

As a certified teacher in the state of Pennsylvania, I am approved to do the required testing for grades 3, 5 and 8. I have the testing supplies with me all the time. I test my own children annually even though the tests for them are considered invalid since I am their mother. I test them anyway so I can see where they are.

Yesterday, both of my girls (ages 10 and 9) tested at or above their grade level on the entire test. I am thrilled because I was a little worried about the spelling part. This is just another affirmation for me that CM methods are very good and they work.

Copywork covers language arts, handwriting, and spelling. There are always opportunities for mini language lessons in copywork. Anytime a child makes a mistake in his copywork, be sure to have him correct it and briefly mention the rule. For example, if the child forgot a capital letter, be sure to mention why a word needs to be capitalized. (Is it at the beginning of a sentence? A proper noun?)

When doing your portfolio, be sure to keep the copywork. Make sure you have samples from the beginning, middle and end of the year to show progress. In the part of the law that I quoted above, it states that we need to cover "writing". It doesn't specify handwriting or composition. If you want to cover both, remember that narration is the perfect opportunity for compostion. The child may simply write the narration for you. (I'll talk more about that in a future post.)

One more note: Did you know that Benjamin Franklin used copywork as a method to become a better writer?

Friday, March 7, 2008

California ruling

Okay, I need to vent here.
I just read the court opinion in the case from California. I am sick to my stomach over it. Why on earth do people think the government always knows what is best for our children?!?!?
The case itself is clearly a case of neglect and/or abuse. John Taylor Gatto says "few need so mandate all". Just because there are a few rare cases of abuse among homeschoolers, it should be illegal to homeschool for everyone???? Sending these kids to public school won't stop the abuse. Even if teachers report it, it won't stop it. I've seen that first hand over and over again. Ugh!!!
And why, because I have a teaching certificate, does that guarantee that I won't abuse my children???? What is the reasoning here?
I could go on here, but I'll restrain myself. One of these days I am going to write a book with my thoughts on this stuff.
I think HSLDA has a strong argument for homeschooling in this case - that the rights of all should not be determined by this one family. However, I think prayer and action are necessary.
Anyone else have any thoughts here? Thanks for letting me vent.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Nature Study

I don't know about anyone else, but I have been itching to get out on a nature walk and do some nature study. We live in a neighborhood and our house sits on one fifth of an acre. I'm not fond of this arrangement, but am suffering through until we can sell our house and get a bigger piece of property.
Even though we have a small piece of property, we are able to find opportunities to observe nature here. Last year we had fun watching our strawberry patch bloom and produce strawberries. We also have a bird house attached to our deck that becomes occupied every year, so we are looking forward to that again this summer.
The other day we went outside because I couldn't stand another day of the children on the computer. Despite the howling wind, we found the beginnings of tree buds on the few trees we have. Even though they protested going outside at first, my girls took it upon themselves to build an outdoor cage for their guinea pigs. The guinea pigs were in their new enclosure for a few minutes when a hawk flew very low over our back yard then perched on a nearby fence. We decided this would be a good time to take the guinea pigs inside. I see this as homeschooling at its finest.

AAch!!! The little critters fit through the holes in the wire! Back to the drawing board.

After a couple of simple modifications, I think we have it.

With the guinea pigs safely inside, we check the trees for buds and find the very beginnings.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bib #88 in the Iditarod

Rookie Anne Capistrant is a musher with bib #88 in the Iditarod. It turns out that, among many other things, she is a homescool mom! I will be adding her to my list of mushers to watch during this race.

It was so exciting to watch all the mushers leave the chute yesterday as they started this great adventure with it's history and tradition. Waking up this morning, I can log on and see where everyone is. The standings today can be completely different in a couple of days from now and will most likely be different at the end of the race (which will be in about 10 days to two weeks). It's hard to predict since nature is so unpredictable.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


The Last Great Race on Earth officially starts tomorrow, March 2 at 10am Alaska time. This race is a wonderful learning opportunity for our children. Subjects that can be covered through the race include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Geography - Alaska, where it is in relation to the state in which we live, time zones, the size of Alaska compared to the rest of the US, how is it possible that parts of the race are actually run on rivers

  • Math - Ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, etc), adding and subtracting time, comparisons of temperatures of Alaska and where you live

  • History - The serum run that inspired the race, the history of the native people who live in the region

  • Science - Meterology (weather in a polar region), Northern Lights, Biology (why huskies and malamutes are "built" for this type of activity, the care and feeding of the sled dogs)

  • Writing - Write letters to your favorite mushers, write a narrative of the daily activities in the race

  • Reading - There are several books that could be found at the local library about the Iditarod, both fiction and nonfiction

  • Ministry - We pray for the mushers and their safety

We studied the Iditarod for the first time last year and can't wait for the start of the race tomorrow afternoon (our time). We will be following Dee Dee Jonrowe (a cancer survivor), Zoya DeNure (a fashion model), Cim Smyth (firefighter), and Jessie Royer (long-time musher).

Some helpful websites:
The Official Site of the Iditarod
Cabela's Iditarod
Scholastic's Iditarod