The Sacred Sprouts Schoolhouse

Archive for March, 2010

Just Eight Weeks Left!

How did that happen?  I swear we were just starting our school year, anticipating great things in the year to come, and here we are, at the beginning of one of eight remaining weeks.  It’s crazy, I tell you!  Public school spring break is scheduled for next week, but we’re going to school anyway.  Our spring break will come towards the end of April, where we take a week of for relocation purposes.

I think, though, that once we’re done with our Core work for the year, I will have Abigail continue with both Math and her Language Arts.  It’s also been requested that we do some read-alouds for fun, so we’ll do that as well.  With the English, we didn’t start this book until second semester, and it’s a two-semester book.  So, I am going through the book myself and we’ll be skipping a few chapters so that she can get the important things down. (Like that sentence diagramming, which she’ll need for next year.)  For math, she will have approximately thirty lessons left in her book.  It won’t take her long to get to them all- and the last ten are completely review, so actually, there are only about 20 lessons that I want to be sure to hit.

This week we’re wrapping up a study on Lewis & Clark, and after that it’s full steam ahead to get in the War of 1812, Westward Expansion, The Erie Canal, and other wonderful innovations of the early 1800’s.  Our school year will come to a close as tension is mounting for the Civil War and the Gold Rush is underway.  That is where we will pick back up in the fall.

As we’re looking back over our year, I think we’re all wishing we could go back and do more.  We’d like to explore more about those Aztecs, Incas, and Maya.  We’d like to dig a little deeper into the lives of John and Abigail Adams, for example, and learn more about the evolution of farming and house-building, sawmills and butter-churning.  Eli Whitney has probably become one of the greatest heroes in our household, right alongside Nathaniel Bowditch.***

Every day there are new opportunities to explore the world around us, and the worlds of yesterday.  We are loving every minute of it.

***About Eli Whitney: I feel like I need to add a postscript to this post after someone kindly asked me if I really meant that we admired Mr. Whitney.  After all, his cotton gin invention directly contributed to an increase in slavery in the south, which we all know led to all sorts of problems.  Yes, we agree, this is bad.   But it is a shame that what Eli Whitney is remembered most for is an invention that he invented for good purposes.  He certainly had no idea that his invention would cause the problems it did- he though that he was going to improve the way of life for Georgians and for himself.  Ironically, he profited almost nothing from the cotton gin, as his patent application had problem after problem, and by the time it was approved, there were only a few months left for him to profit by the cotton gin.

It was Eli Whitney’s take on mechanized production that really impressed my kids and myself, for that matter.  Here is what I wrote in an e-mail to someone who asked:

What really impressed my kids was his determination to answer a problem.  He was presented the idea of figuring out a way to seed cotton, and he stuck with it for years, perfecting his design over and over until it worked just the way he wanted it to.  But it wasn’t so much the cotton gin that wowed us, it was his ideas for mechanizing production. The fact that he had this idea to make muskets with interchangeable parts, using guides to make each piece, and then he stuck with it for years and years until he got it just so.  So while one of Eli’s inventions may have had the unintended consequences for the south, his other, greater inventions (which he doesn’t always get
credit for) may have led directly to the Industrial Revolution. He caused a whole new way of thinking about mass production, and he determined to stick with it, even when times were rough and it didn’t look like it would happen.

When Eli died, he left his musket factory to his son, Eli Whitney Jr, who later partnered with Samuel Colt to produce revolvers.   And even someone who knows nothing about guns has heard of a Colt revolver.

*****Just one more note.  The book we read on Eli was called The Story of Eli Whitney by Jean Lee Latham.  It is available on Amazon should anyone wish to read more about this innovative man and his life.

posted by Erika in Random Thoughts and have Comments Off on Just Eight Weeks Left!

Learning Through Literature

This is what we’re loving the most.

We absolutely love that the way we learned about the Revolutionary War was through literature- through novels and stories.  We didn’t learn about it, and the key players simply by reading facts in a textbook.  We learned via literature, and as a result, it sticks.  When we mention redcoats or Paul Revere, instantly, the kids conjure up images from the books we’ve read, and they understand!

The other day Zander made a point to tell me how much he enjoys our read-aloud time.  He took that a step further by telling me that he loves chapter books- and did I want to know why?  Of course I wanted to know why, so then he proceeded to tell me that when I read aloud to him, it’s like he has a TV in his head and he can picture everything that is going on.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Abigail has been found in recent weeks with her nose in various books.  And this week, she asked if we could read her reading book twice as fast so that she could read an extra book at reading time.  How can I argue with that?

The only problem we have?  I can only read so much aloud in one day.  We have two books that we read aloud each day, and Zander keeps asking me if we can read another book aloud, just for fun.  We’re on week 27 of our core, and have just 9 weeks left.  After that, I told him, we’ll read a few books for fun.  Don’t ask me how I’m going to manage next year when I have the kids in their own cores- that will translate to about 4 read-alouds for me per day.  Yikes!  And books on audio are not an option, we are not fans at all of the strange voice reading to us.  I think we managed to listen for almost ten minutes when we tried that- it just wasn’t the same.

The learning continues, and I just love seeing when they connect something that we’ve read aloud.  We’ve been reading about Lewis & Clark and Western discovery.  This has led to a major exploration of maps, and trying to see all the rivers, where they are, what they’re named, and where they lead to.  I can’t wait until Abigail reads her next reading book, which has a little bit about Sacajawea in it, and then she connects that book to the story of Lewis & Clark.  I just love how everything we do ties in!  I love that for reading, she is reading about the past presidents, first ladies, and stories from days gone by, and she LOVES it.  On the back of some of the biographies, there are lists of other books published by the same publisher- and she wants to read them ALL!    I don’t know what she’s going to do next year when we reach the industrial revolution and the Civil War.  It’s going to be a good time!

posted by Erika in Random Thoughts and have Comments Off on Learning Through Literature

Sonlight Core 3 Younger Readers

I want to get this down for future reference.  These are the readers I’ve been having Zander read to accompany his older sister through the core.

Week 1            Rain Player by David Wisniewski

Week 2            Mario’s Mayan Journey by Michelle McCunney

Week 3            Christopher Columbus by Stephen Krensky

Week 4            If You Lived With The Iroquois by Ellen Levine

Week 5            Small Wolf by Nathaniel Benchley

Week 6            The True Story of Pocahontas by Lucille Recht Penner

Week 7            A Mare For Young Wolf by Janice Shefelman

Week 8            The First Thanksgiving by  Linda Hayward

Week 9            Squanto And The First Thanksgiving by  Joyce K. Kessel

Week 10          Finding Providence   by    Avi

Week 11          If You Lived In Colonial Times by Ann McGovern & June Otani

Week 12          Ben Franklin’s Big Shock  by Judith Jango-Cohen

Week 13          Ben Franklin And The Magic Squares  by Frank Murphy

Week 14          Sam The Minuteman by  Nathaniel Benchley

Week 15          George The Drummer Boy by Nathaniel Benchley

Week 16          Paul Revere’s Ride  by Shana Corey

Week 17          John Adams Speaks For Freedom by Deborah Hopkinson

Week 18          Abigail Adams: First Lady of The Revolution by Patricia Lakin

Week 19          George Washington and The General’s Dog by Frank Murphy

Week 20          Revolutionary War Wednesday by Mary Pope Osborne

Week 21          Revolutionary War Wednesday by Mary Pope Osborne

Week 22          The 18 Penny Goose by Sally M. Walker

Week 23          Betsy Ross: The Story of Our Flag by Pamela Chanko

Week 24          Davy Crockett: A Life On The Frontier by Stephen Kransky

Week 25          Johnny Appleseed: An American Who Made A Difference  by     Alyse Sweeney

Week 26          Lewis & Clark: A Prairie Dog For The President  by Shirley Rae Redmond

Week 27          Thomas Jefferson’s Feast by Frank Murphy

Week 28          Thomas Jefferson And The Louisiana Purchase  by  Emily Raabe

Week 29          The Golly Sisters Go West by Betsy Byars

Week 30          The Trail of Tears  by Joseph Bruchac

Week 31          Chang’s Paper Pony by Eleanor Coerr

Week 32          Ten Mile Day: Building of Transcontinental Railroad by Mary Ann Fraser

Week 33          The Josephina Story Quilt by Eleanorr Coerr

Week 34          Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express by Eleanorr Coerr

Week 35          The Long Way To A New Land by Joan Sandin**

Week 36          The Amazing, Impossible Erie Canal by  Cheryl Harness

** Book scheduled in Core 2: Readers 2 Intermediate.  Since this is our first core, I didn’t know that.   Zander will have no problems reading a book twice- but maybe someone else might.  In that case, just replace it with a fun book about discoveries of that era- maybe something about a steamboat would be good.

posted by Erika in Supplements,Uncategorized and have Comments Off on Sonlight Core 3 Younger Readers

Ah, Yes… Forgot About That

Today Zander finished up his math work in record time.  He’s started multiplication- and he gets it big time. He gets it, but I still want to take our time doing it.

One of the reasons is that I don’t want to get into multiplication and division to far before those basic addition and subtraction facts are mastered.  We’re definitely on our way there- we work flashcards every so often, and he gets quicker at them every time.   Last week I changed up his flashcard routine by having him do jumping jacks to tell me the answer.  That was a riot!

But today, as he was doing his subtraction flashcard with me, my mind was wandering, and I was thinking that I really needed to stop by The Learning Shop the next time I was in Appleton and pick up a basic addition and subtraction workbook for him.  My very next thought was – oh, yeah.  I could check online first.

Then I remembered The Learning Page.  I used this way back when Abigail was in kindergarten- our purpose then was to improve her handwriting.   I’ve used in on and off for both kids since then, but hooray- it’s exactly what I was looking for- and then some.

I can use it to print off basic math facts worksheets in fun themes.  By having Zander doing his math facts on paper instead of orally every day, he is also working on his handwriting- so I get a double accomplishment from one sheet.

As I was printing off some of the math sheets, I wandered over to the language section and struck gold.  See, Zander hasn’t been doing much actual language arts.  No one makes curriculum for a kindergartner that doesn’t include phonics.  He doesn’t need phonics- he reads at a 3.7 grade level he doesn’t need to learn about blending letters together and the sounds they make.  Since we do reading together and handwriting, that really has been adequate to meet our LA needs for him since he finished up his workbooks several months ago.  But I’ve been wishing that I could find something a little more for him- without having to pick up formal first grade material.

The Learning Page to the rescue!   I printed off a handful of sheets about vowels and consonants, and some comprehension worksheets, and in the days ahead he’ll be doing some language arts.  He may very well exhaust everything the Learning Page has to offer- but I’m more than okay with that.  All it costs me is the price of ink and paper- which I have in abundance right now.

So I just thought I’d share this valuable resource for anyone with littles to homeschool.  I love the themed worksheets that The Learning Page puts out.  And since it’s free to join- it’s a win-win situation.

posted by Erika in Supplements and have Comments Off on Ah, Yes… Forgot About That