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.
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!
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.
Here we are at the beginning of a new school year and a new dimension in home schooling……HIGH SCHOOL! Overall, we will have fifth, seventh and ninth graders.
Parks begins fifth grade. Throughout the year, he plans to learn about the ancient cultures, botany, anatomy and astronomy. He also wants to work on his spelling and writing. He made tremendous gains in his handwriting last year which means that he can focus a little more on content. In years past, he narrated, I scribed, and he copied. He will also continue with playing the drums in his band (The Beat Keepers), riding bmx bikes and riding horses.
Sawyer jumps into seventh grade studying the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, botany, anatomy and astronomy with Parks, and creative writing. Sawyer also plans to continue sewing, singing in her band (5 Lives), riding horses and climbing.
Sims transitions this year into high school. I am still not exactly sure why, but this makes me slightly anxious. He has quite a load of academic studies, but he is excited about getting started. He will study Algebra, Biology, World History (the early years including ancient cultures and the Middle Ages), World Geography, English 1 (he will be tying in English with history), and Forestry. He will continue rock climbing throughout the year and is going to try out a local sailing team as well.
We are moving to a more traditional approach to schooling in response to the kids’ requests. I love the Waldorf approach using stories and art to bring concepts to life. Thus, I am trying to do a bit of traditional, Waldorf and Montessori. For the younger kids, we are trying out Shiller math (a Montessori-based). So far, they are both LOVING it. The lessons are short and to the point. They are hands on too. The younger kids are also using Growing with Grammar, Soaring with Spelling, and Oak Meadow for the rest of their work. The first two books are pretty straight forward and to the point. I am splitting up the grade 6 Oak Meadow curriculum. Parks will work through the first half of the book starting with the Stone Age and working through the Ancient Greeks. Sawyer will start off with the Romans (a quick review) and work through the Age of Exploration. Sims is using Thinkwell for Algebra, Oak Meadow for geography and world history, various sources for biology, English writing with mom, and forestry using 4-H materials.