For the past 7 years, our family has gone to the LEAF festival in Black Mountain, NC. Personally, I LOVE this festival. There are no phones, no agendas, and no obligations. There is art, music, crafting, food (oh, the food), classes, people watching, fun activities, and family time. Sawyer and Parks also work on craft items to sell at the kids area each year, which is a lot of fun to watch. Even though not much changes year to year at the festival, each year is a completely new experience with so many new memories.
Last week we wrapped up our second block. I think that we are finally starting to get into a groove-yep, it took us two months. It happens. I still do not love the rhythm that we have, but the kids enjoy it and it works for them. Last month I posted that I was not going to do blocks this year-well, things changed. We are going to continue with blocks. They just seem to work and they break things up. Blocks also make the amount of information that I am responsible for more manageable. I was not able to keep up with the three grades and all of the classes. I feel that the block system allows us to dive deep and actually have some good discussions.
Grade 5-Ancient Egypt
Parks’ second block revolved around Ancient Egypt. He read the book,” A Place in the Sun,” by Jill Rubalcaba and “Who was King Tut.” He also read several of the Egyptian myths throughout the month. He made a pyramid from clay and watched the pyramid movie by David MacCaulay. Overall, he really enjoyed Ancient Egypt. I think that he enjoyed learning about the pyramids the most.
Sawyer’s second block was one of my favorites with Sims, but since she had seen it all before-Sawyer was not all that impressed. She began the block by reading the book, “Alchemy and Chemistry,” by Stefoff. She learned about how the main elements were thought to be air, water, fire and earth. We then looked at chemical processes that use the four elements such as photosynthesis and cellular respiration. We ended the block playing with fire and learning why some things burn and some do not. Of course she knew that a rock would not burn, but she did not know that it was due to its lack of carbon atoms. She also read the book, “The Alchemist,” in preparation for our next block and to go along with this block.
Grade 9-Biology and Cells
So how are we going to do blocks for high school? Well, Sims and I decided that he would continue with weekly/daily math, writing, forestry, geography and PE. Then we will do history and biology in blocks. This month, we continued with biology and the cell. He learned about the cell membrane, the mitochondria, the nucleus, how ATP is made and used. He did a lot of hands on work in the beginning of the month at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. In addition to biology, he finished up studying North America and has started into South America in Geography. In Forestry, he helped with a Project Learning Tree event for local sixth graders and went on a couple more forest assessments where he has a list of things to document for each plot of land including invasive species, tree types, number of trees over a certain size, undergrowth identification and more.
In February of 2016, I wrote about Sawyer’s passion for sewing. In my mind then, I thought that she had a true talent with sewing-one that I never had. Well over the past year and a half, she has amazed me even more. She doesn’t sew all the time, and she is not obsessed with sewing. However when she does begin working on a project, she works until it is complete. I am impressed with her perseverance and passion.
Since my last post on her sewing, Sawyer has made huge strides in her abilities. After a couple of camps and a lot of trial and error, she can sew-for real. (Sewing is a skill that I imagine that I have, but I have NEVER been able to make anything that I would admit to. Thus, I love that my daughter can do it.) Sawyer can see a design in her head, play with the material, and make it. Now, she is still on simple designs-I am not saying that she is a fashion genius by any means, but she has a gift that she surely did not get from me or her dad. She can also fix her machine 90% of the time (if you do sew, you know this is a gift in and of itself. The machine can have a mind of its own, and I have no idea on how it works. Thankfully, Nick does, and he has taught her a lot).
I am not sure why, but I have never thought of biking as one of my kids’ passions. However, it is probably the longest passion that my boys have had. Sims started biking well by the time he was three. He used to ride his little 12 inch bike with me on my long runs. Parks, of course being three years younger, started riding a bike as soon as he could get on one. And neither of them has stopped since! Sawyer rides too, but mainly to keep up with her brothers.
We have not gone out hiking yet this school year or on too many local field trips. However, we did make two quick out of town trips. First we headed west to Asheville, NC to check out Kolo Bike park. I heard that it was a pretty fun place if you enjoy biking. Upon pulling into the parking lot of the park, I was far from impressed and was thinking about trying to go find some free mountain biking somewhere close by. Thankfully, the kids thought it looked great, and they jumped out of the car. Overall, the trip kept the boys thoroughly entertained. Sawyer and I, well, we hung out and pretended that we knew how to ride bikes!
Our next trip took us east to Raleigh. We visited my brother and his family on Thursday night. Then Friday morning, Parks headed to camp at Daniel Dheirs Action Sports Complex while Sawyer, Sims and I went to the NC Museum of Natural Science.
Overall, two fun field trips days! Hopefully, we will get on some trails soon too!
I recently read an amazing blog post from The HmmmSchooling Mom blog entitled, “5 Reasons Homeschooling Gets Harder as Your Kids Get Older.” Her post has me thinking about my own blog and why I have slowed down on writing-although, I think she nailed it!
Her five reasons include:
1. School work:it’s more difficult and less fun. (Definitely, on my blog you will see the fun activities. How many people want to see pictures of my kids sitting at the table working on math? Or at the computer researching? We try to keep the work “fun,” but even the fun stuff isn’t as exciting as the fun, crafty, hands-on activities from a few years ago. Also, my kids just want to get through their work now and get onto their interests/activities.)
2. Money (Yes and yes. Curriculum costs more. Interests cost more, unless you luck into finding a mentor. I am also finding it tough to find opportunities for my kids that we do not have to pay for now that they are older.)
3. Socialization (This is tough too. I have three kids with three different interests. Socialization happens but I tend to be more of a taxi driver. The kids used to have a core group of friends at Latta Plantation-in fact, we went there a couple of times a week. As the kids got older, the group dwindled down. Now, they each have a core group of friends at various places such as the climbing gym, music, the neighborhood, etc. I also do not take many pictures of my crew hanging out because they want and deserve to have their privacy respected. The change in socialization for the kids also led to a change in socialization for myself. When they hung out at Latta, I also hung out at Latta with some amazing moms and instructors. Now, I have to make sure that I make time to see my friends. A week can go by pretty quickly without seeing anyone!)
4. Parents and children start to butt heads. (We have lucked out on this for the most part. Now, we do have to occasional overwhelmed child but for the most part, we are ok)
5. Support for homeschooling parents of older kids can be harder to find. (Definitely! Where are the homeschool groups for preteens and teens? There are a ton of groups around us for the little guys-ages 8 and younger. However, it is tough to find parents of older kids to chat with about curriculum, life and how to adjust to the middle/high school change. I loved my experience at the Taproot Teacher Conference. I dream of finding something similar for older kids.)
We are not officially doing blocks this year, but I am going to try to group each month’s work into blocks for documenting here on the blog (hopefully, it will work!). We made a few changes this year in hopes to make this year a but more manageable. Homeschooling three grades is tough and adding high school made it tougher.
Block 1: Grade 5
Throughout this block, Parks learned about the Stone Ages and Ancient Mesopotamia. He is using Oak Meadow’s sixth grade book as his core curriculum. He also read the book, Gilgamesh the Hero this month. Daily, Parks worked on math from the Life of Fred book-Farming, spelling from Soaring with Spelling, copy work/dictation from Gilgamesh, and grammar from Growing with Grammar. He loved working on the projects from the Oak Meadow book. From the stone age section, he made an ax with a rock, a stick and some sinew. From learning about Ancient Mesopotamia, he made two posters and a ziggurat.
Block 1: Grade 7
Sawyer did not find the same excitement in the Oak Meadow curriculum as Parks did during this block. Sawyer did a quick review of the Ancient Romans and how Rome was affected by the new religions of Christianity and Islam. She also did daily work from Life of Fred-Fractions, copywork/dictation from her reading of A Door in the Wall, spelling from Soaring with Spelling and grammar from Growing with Grammar. Sawyer worked on creative writing with a teacher this month and will continue with her through the year. So far, she has made a picture story and a story from a painting.
Block 1: Grade 9
Sims worked hard this month. He has a good bit more work this year. He worked daily on World History, Geography, Algebra and Biology. He also read The Epic of Gilgamesh and completed a story board complete with the six elements of an epic and how Gilgamesh fits into the elements. He also has worked on a few fun experiments such as how chemical weathering effects rocks on the earth and how to extract DNA from a strawberry. We are still trying to figure out the best fit for some of his subjects, but I think that we are close to getting all of the kinks out so that he can soar through the rest of the year.