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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Block 2

Believe it or not, we have actually schooled throughout the fall.  Unfortunately, I have not updated my blog on our progress!  Well so far, we have completed 4 blocks.  I plan to get up to date as soon as possible.  Let’s start with block 2!

Block two included shelters, botany and alchemy.  All fun blocks!  Parks worked through his first block on shelters.  For this block, he memorized the poem Here is the House.  He also used this poem as his copy work for the the month.  He learned about the different types of houses around the world and used the different types of house names to practice alphabetical order.  The second week, Parks looked at the different ways that we protect ourselves from the environment. Then he wanted to learn about animal shelters and Native American shelters, so we researched both of these for the remainder of the block.

Sawyer began her education on botany during this block.  We began botany by discussing all of the essential nutrients and life giving elements of the soil and the air.  We discussed the importance of dark and light for plants.  We then went into the parts of a flower and plant nomenclature  Overall, we followed the Charles Kovacs Botany book and followed plant life from the simplest up to the most complex.  Thus, we started by discussing mushrooms/fungi progressed to mosses and ferns and finished with flowering trees.  We watched tulips open and close with the light.  We examined moss under magnifying glasses.  We went to the local nursery and looked at all types of plants.  Overall, we both are looking forward to delve more into the topic of botany in the spring!

Sims’ second block was a favorite.  We ALL enjoyed it.  He studied the history of alchemy and chemistry.  Beginning with the book Alchemy and Chemistry by Stefoff, he learned some important definitions and the journey of field.  From alchemy, we discussed the elements of earth, fire, water and air and some of the most natural chemical reactions-photosynthesis and respiration.  He also used the book Photosynthesis by Silverstein throughout this week. The last two weeks of the block were filled with lab experiments using fire.  We all gathered around candles and the fire pit as Sims worked through his experiments. In preparation for next month, Sims also read “The Alchemist.”

In addition to their main lessons, everyone continued to work through their math-u-see work, spelling, Latin and reading.

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