2017/2018: Block 2

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.

Grade 7-Alchemy

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.

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2017/2018

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.

Grade 5

Parks begins fifth grade.  Throughout the year, he plans to learn about tIMG_4123he 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.

 

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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.

Grade 9

Sims transitions this year into high school.  I am still not exactly sure why, but this makes IMG_4142me 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.

Block 8: 2016/2017

Block 8!  I cannot believe we are getting close to the end of the year!  Not only was block 8 full of school, it was full of activities!

Grade 4: Norse Myths

This month, Parks finished up his study of the Norse myths.  He told me that the myths have been his favorite part of the year.  He loves the stories, which is good since he has heard them many times before.  We continued to use the D’Aularis book of Norse Myths.

Grade 6: Business Math

Sawyer LOVED this month (in fact, she is going to keep working on it through May).  For this block, I purchased the Bookstore curriculum from Simply Charlotte Mason.  She developed a logo, decided on her inventory, and began working through the book.  The program introduces real life scenarios, such as road construction occurred in front of your store; thus, you lost some of your sales.  Of course, these scenarios brought about a lot of discussions-especially about our small town that is going through quite a few construction projects lately.

Grade 8: Government and Civics

I originally planned on only going over US government with Sims, but our discussions turned us in another discussion.  This allowed him to learn about other types of governments and to compare/contrast them to the US government.  We also all fell in love with the game CIVITAS.  It is a quick card game that teaches about different government types.

Our month of activities!

Block Five 2016/2017

2017 started off a little rough emotionally, but school-wise it started off well.  The first block of the year was a lot of fun for everyone.

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Grade 4-Local History

Parks’ block began by looking at the Native American tribe that inhabited our area before the European settlers came, which was the Catawba Tribe.  We visited the Charlotte Museum of History which had some information on the tribe (and a  TON of information on the beginnings of Charlotte, the biggest city that we are near and the where many of the NC history stories that we have read about take place).  He then looked at the town that we live in, Cornelius, and how it has changed over the years.  Our area was drastically changed in the 60s when the area was flooded to build a lake.  We visited the Energy Explorium for our area which had a terrific history of the area and pictures of the area before and after the lake was built.  He finished up the block with a study of his choice which was Blackbeard, a pirate who resided in NC.  Overall, I think Parks really enjoyed the block.

Grade 6- Economics/Business

Sawyer’s block focused on business using the book Striker Jones.  I am not a business person.  When I did this block with Sims, I used this book and Sims really enjoyed it!  Well, Sawyer did too.  Each chapter had vocabulary and insightful questions that got everyone discussing business!  During the field trip to the Charlotte Museum of History, the guide spoke about bartering and trading which was perfectly timed with her chapter.  She also interviewed several people about their jobs and what kept them at their jobs (she was pretty shocked to find out that money was not enough to keep people at their jobs).  She wrote a business letter to Jelly Belly about her love for their product!  We also went to watch the new movie, “The Founder.”  After that movie, she wasn’t so sure how she felt about being a part of a big business in her future!

Grade 8-US History 1910-Modern Times

I wanted to try to make history more relevant for Sims during this block, and I think it worked.  We did history backwards.  I had him look at 2016 (the year that he turned 13) and describe historical events and his life.  We then went back in 10 year increments to look at what happened during that decade.  He also interviewed people of different ages.  During each interview, he asked: in what year was the person 13? what and where were the activities that the person participated in? what big events in history does the person remember? what was an event that had a big impact on the person’s life? anything else that the person wanted to add?  Most people did not know what was going on in the country, such as the depression, the vastness of the wars, the economic ups or downs, etc.  Three of the four field trips tied in very nicely with this block for him.  The Charlotte Museum of History was filled with information on the area from the present time back to the 1700s.  The movie, “Hidden Figures,” went through civil rights, the cold war, and the space program (and many more historical events).  Finally, the Energy Explorium went through the impact of electricity through the US and many other changes in the US over the past 100 years.  Like Sawyer, we had SO many amazing discussions, looked through videos, and made so many connections during this block.  Sims also learned how to make a simple power point presentation during this block as a way to make an outline for the century.

 

I love it when all three blocks come together so nicely.  They all had pieces that tied them together.  We read about many business practices during our local history and US history blocks that put what Sawyer was learning into real life.  We learned how the small town that we live in was impacted by events happening around the US.

A Day in the Life 2017-Monday

For the past few years, I have posted our activities each day for one week.  I try to keep the week around the same period of time each year.  You can find 2014/2015 here.  And you can find 2015/2016 here.  I am not sure what this week will look like due to the craziness that the rest of the month held.  (You can read about our last couple of week here.)  We definitely have changed some since last year. So here goes:

645 I wake up, shower and blog.  I planned our week last night so we are ready to go.

730 Parks is up, feeds the cats, and empties his part of dishwasher.

750 Sims and Sawyer are up.  We all eat breakfast and discuss our dinner situation.  I am struggling with getting good, healthy dinners for everyone, and I need some help.  Everyone came up with one meal that he or she can make this week.  Everyone scatters before we begin the day officially.

840 We begin our 15 minute clean up.

900 We meet in the sunroom to do our lessons.  Parks works on a map of our town (which I learn that he only thinks of our neighborhood and the neighborhood beside us as part of his town).  I read aloud a chapter from Striker Jones and we discuss the chapter as a group for Sawyer’s business math block.  We discussed events in the US during the 1950s and 1960s for Sims’ US history (this was nicely timed with MLK, Jr Day today).

1000 Everyone begins his or her independent work.  I work with each child individually on lessons that they need.  Parks and I worked on math.  Sawyer and I worked on business math.  Sims and I worked on his presentation for US history and more discussion on history.

1140 I go for a walk while the kids eat lunch and finish up their work.  By this time, Parks is done with his work and is riding his bike outside. but the other two are still finishing up math.

1230 I head to the city to take the dog to the vet and to pick up my curtains that are at the alterations shop.  The kids hang out.  Sims rode his bike to the lake house to fish with his friends.

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215 I come home ravished.  I ate lunch.  Lucky for me, Nick is home too so we got to eat together.  🙂  After lunch, I started some laundry and put up the curtains.

305 I head back out to run an errand and to pick up Sims and his friend from the lake house.

405 I drive by the house to pick up the younger two and we all head to Mooresville (two towns north of us).  Here Parks and Sawyer take music lessons, and Sims climbs.

545 I meet Nick to drop off Parks, so that they can go to cub scouts tonight.  Sawyer and I head to dinner and then to climb for a bit.

800 We arrive home.  I cooked dinner for Sims and chatted with Parks.  Since all five of us are together, we sat and worked on our 2017 goals as a family.  By 910, we were all fried and exhausted.

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915 Parks headed to bed.  Sawyer headed to get a shower.  Sims headed up to his room and I began this post.  I plan to head to bed here in a bit!  That was an exhausting day of driving.  This is close to my usual Monday except for the driving to the city at noon and the errand at 3.  I am not usually in the car nearly that much.

 

 

Block Four: 2016/2017

I knew that December had the potential to get a little crazy.  I also know that a lot of homeschoolers take December off all together.  My crew still needs the consistency of a schedule so I planned a mini block that we did together.

Thus, our last block of 1016 was North American Geography.  We started the block off with a look at the continent as a whole, naming the countries and looking at their flags. Next we read a story about a family who lives in Greenland and watched several videos on the area.  Then we moved to Canada where we learned a bit about the history, the geography and the culture.  I also used this time to work in some cursive practice.

Wacky Wednesday-Old Salem

Today we headed to another NC treasure-Old Salem, North Carolina!  We started the morning at a Home Moravian Church for the school version of their Candle Tea.  WOW!  The church does an amazing job with the activity.  We began inside the Single Brother’s House learning about the Moravian Star.

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Moravian Star

We then moved into the next room to watch candle making.  The candles will be used at the Christmas Service.

Then we moved into the kitchen to learn about the single brothers and some local history.

The final stop was the basement filled with an amazing replica of Old Salem and a nativity scene.

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After the Candle Tea, we explored around the town and were awed by the beauty of the Old Town.