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Monday, January 21, 2013

It’s a NEW Year!- A new idea!

I have decided that it would be more productive to post end of week wrap-ups to let our readers and family know what we did throughout the week. I will also post special separate things of on goings around Castle Academy but my main focus will be the wrap-ups, at least until I change my mind again Winking smile.
So here is a look at our first two weeks back in the New Year…

Enrique_blogpic  Prince has made another change in his curriculum, after a couple of lessons in the Apologia General Science, he decided that he was not ready for this upper level Science. It is not that I agree with him, because I KNOW he can do it, but I have no problem with him making this decision. So for Science he is working on the Answers in Genesis God’s design for Life. Both he and Princessa are working in the World of Animals book. HE is on the mammals unit, and although he knows what a mammal is this has given him the opportunity to work on his research skills also. He is given a different unique animal each week to find out all the information he can on it, which he seems to be enjoying. He has also been keeping a science notebook which he enjoys drawing in. 
          Math, as mentioned before is finally coming along. He has grasp the concept of multiplying and dividing fractions, it is not that he did not understand he just hated all the steps it takes it get to the answer, but I finally got him to understand the importance of each step, at least I think Winking smile. He has moved on to a simpler concept for now and is working with decimals, he is going to be upset with me for I have decided to move, or rather move through this fast because they come so easily (we still have another year to catch up on).
         Language Arts on a whole is simple enough for him that we have no major struggles.

Isseli_blogpic  Princessa is my easy going student, and is moving along in everything quite nicely. She is also doing the AIG science, and just finished up the Fish and Birds unit. She was fascinated to learn that the Shark had no bones in it’s body and chose to do her report on it, I think this has become her favorite animal! She to is doing a lot more research using this curriculum but enjoys it, coming from a mom who use to read the encyclopedia for fun, I could not be happier!
           Math just seems to come easy to her and man am I GLAD! She barely needs any help in new lessons and pretty much teaches herself, she did NOT get this from me! She could probably get the book finished early, but insist that she hates math so I let her move at a new lesson a day.
          Grammar is kind of a struggle for her, but not the harder concepts, such as the parts of speech. She can pick apart a sentences just as good as Prince and on his level. I praise Easy Grammar for this!  It is just so much easier to be trained to find the preposition first, every student should be taught this way! But back to the subject, what gives Princessa trouble is contractions and plurals. I am tempted to not worry about the contractions being that they are really not proper English and not allowed in high level papers, but I understand they may come in handy one day? I have begun pulling this from Pinterest to help her on this. As for the plurals she understands what they are, it is just the spelling part that gets her, especially the ending O’s and the IES’s. But I have faith that we will get through it.

Dalia_blogpic  Lady Jey is coming along through her studies. Her reading is becoming a lot stronger and we have also been working on spelling. She has also been introduced to a couple of 4 letter words and sight words. I though at first she would struggle but she is skipping through with a smile Winking smile. She can even spell a couple of her sight words! I think I am more excited then her, only because I did NOT expect it to be this easy! She is still enjoying her SonLight read alouds, but I am starting to think we should have gone with a more advanced Core, but we will work it out.
         Math is simple enough for her also, we worked on measuring the first week and then on to time this past week. I thought we would need an extra week for this just because of past experience, with the other children, but she caught on the first day! and was bored with it the second, so needless to say we are flying through the BJU math book. 
       We had finished our BJU science book before Christmas, so while organizing and cataloging our home library (OCD much), I ran across a book we already owned and decided it would do the job until I came up with something better. So both the little ones have been using My Very First Encyclopedia with Winnie the Pooh and Friends, more encyclopedia work! just trying to push my love of research off on my kids. They enjoy looking and reading about the different pages of animals. The full color picture of each animal is beautiful! By reading this book Lady Jey has learned so far what a mammal and bird are and their characteristics. I think we will stick to this until we finish it, since it is teaching them something.  I also purchased  the complete set of Magic School Bus episodes, while on sell may I add, and we have been using these in the morning while eating breakfast. I know they are a little advanced for the little ones but they are such a great way to introduce the little ones to science topics and help review the olders on topics they have already learned.

Bellia_blogpic  Lady Bells is still not doing much in the way of  typical learning but she is absorbing all she can. I think the Magic School Bus episodes are her favorite and she ask to watch them as soon as she opens her eyes in the morning. She still enjoys listening to Lady Jey’s stories and “helps” me while doing word work with Lady Jey. Last week she started saying the words along with Lady Jey, so I know she is learning, in secret!  When we review a letter every week she knows it and it’s sound and will complete a color sheet of the letter, but this is the only worksheet type learning she will agree to do which suits me fine.  She shies away when we do math work, has to be my blood! but once we break out the Winnie the Pooh encyclopedia she is ALL ears! She loves trying to guess the next animal we will read about and gets excited to see the pictures of the animals, especially the ones of the baby animals.

       As for our group learning we are sailing through. Still enjoying SonLight and ALL it offers. For History we are right at the Revolutionary war, which seems to be Prince’s favorite topic! He enjoys reading all the information he can get for this period. And as for the read aloud, Johnny Tremain, they are absorbing it and are upset every time we put it down for the day. Princessa does not seem to be as interested in History as much as Prince but I understand each is different, as long as she shows some understanding I will not worry.

         In Bible, we started our Apologia Who is God and Can I Really Know Him? The first weeks went by slow but it was just the introduction but on Friday it picked up and we are getting into the purpose of the book, to learn how to discern the truth Biblically. I say the first week was slow for us, not that it was not necessary nor was it not good, but the first couple lessons deal with becoming a Christian which both of my older children are. So they found it kind of strange to be talking about this, when they have already accepted Christ as their Savior.
I have to say our time back after the break has been great! I don’t know if it is because we just needed a break after being in school since July or just because we have finally fallen into our new routine. Whatever the reason I simply enjoyed the past two weeks and I know I owe all of it to God! My prayer is that things continue to go so smooth so that we can enjoy our learning together!
So until next time, This is our days at CA!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

MIA: Where have we been?

       It has been awhile since my last post, and a lot has happened.  First of all I have to admit that blogging seemed to become more of a chore then for fun, so I have decided to stop posting every little thing about the little ones schooling. They don’t seem to mind because they were getting a little camera shy. Plus making and posting all of our Collections were getting in the way of other things that should have been happening instead, so I decided to put those off for a while also since Lady Jey is really not using them any more and Lady Bells will not use them in full until maybe next year.

     SANY0500On my last post I posted about Lady Jey’s first book, since then she has read many more and is doing good. We have completed the Math U See (MUS) Primer and decided that MUS is just not for us and have moved on or rather back to BJU math, only because it is what Princessa used and we already own it. We also finished the BJU science we were working on, so I am in the process of looking for something for her to do. We are still doing Sonlight but I am not really happy that Sonlight does not introduce sight words in a “normal”  way, so I have decided, that we will add in the You can Read curriculum that we started last year and finish it up. Although things are going to change up a little Lady Jey is doing really well, kindergarten is NOT as stressful as I thought it would be, that summer before we started.  I am really enjoying teaching her, and I am really glad we went for a more laid back approach.

SANY0499 As for Lady Bells, “school” has kind of slacked off a bit. She is really not into doing worksheets or her notebook everyday. She still reviews the letter sounds at least once a week and we do some counting and she listens to Lady Jey’s stories but that is all the school she is up to doing these days. This does not alarm me in the least, I have since come to realize that all of my children are different and sometimes it takes different levels of maturity to be introduced to certain things. So things that she just didn’t get this year will come automatically next year. I have also decided that I will probably wait to start official kindergarten with her, the year she will be six, it  just seems that things are easier to grasp, for them at this age. But we will see!

      SANY0498Princessa has since finished her study of the human body using the Answers in Genesis curriculum, and is now doing The World of Animals.  I really like this curriculum because of it being from a young earth perspective but using Sonlight has turned me on to the the use of living books, so I am on the fence as to rather or not I will continue with AIG. Princessa seems to like AIG so I guess for now I will continue with what we are doing and maybe use Sonlight science over the summer?  As for math, we have done away with MUS at this level also. This decision was not taken lightly because I did love the approach of MUS and Princessa was doing really well in it. I made this decision based solely on the struggles that Prince was having in math, more of this below, and the drive to get back to simpler things. I decided to go with Rod and Staff to meet our needs. Not only is this curriculum VERY cheap it is simple. Simple for me to teach and they really get the concepts easily. Fourth grade at this stage has been a breeze for Princessa, no real struggles and I pray it will continue to be.

 Prince is finally catching up in math, YAY!  As mention above MUS was just not working for us partly because he did not learn the concepts needed in public school to complete the level of math expected  of his grade level. We tried everything! After much tears from him and lots of prayers on my part everything came together when a neighbor introduced me to Rod and Staff.  Not that I have not seen it before, but I dismissed it as old fashion and boring, what with all of these new math curriculums out there how could it even be remotely compared. Boy was I WRONG!  Prince instantly caught on! I don’t know, maybe it was all the distractions of the previous curriculum, not just MUS, that was holding him back, maybe it was the one on one teaching he needed, I don’t know. But I truly have to say Rod and Staff was a Godsend!  The spiral approach is what he needed not the one concept approach of MUS that I thought would help. Rod and Staff is how I learned to do math so that helps when trying to teach him something he doesn’t understand. I say to any of you out there that have little ones who struggle in math, Do not overlook Rod and Staff as an option! It is simple and basic and does the job! without the higher price of the “newer” curriculum. As for science, he has finished his Creation or Evolution book and is still excited when he can discuss these things with anyone who is willing to listen, so of course that makes me excited that I went with my gut in picking this science for him to do. He has now started on his upper level science, and is doing Apologia Exploring Creation with General Science, he was VERY excited to start this because of all the experiments he will be doing, I was excited because I DON’T have to help Winking smile.  I am not a very hands on learner and just reading about the experiment does it for me so thankfully these experiments or pretty straight forward and he can do them himself plus they offer a companion CD that explains the experiments.

SANY0497, One of Prince’s first experiments with his new science. Using water, corn syrup, and oil. With a grape, a small pebble, a piece of cork, and an ice cube.

        Our group studies have been very pleasing, we are ALL loving Sonlight history, everything from the read-alouds to the readers. There have been a couple of books that we did not get through, such as Walk the Rim and Lawn Boy, which came highly praised, but there have been others that we truly LOVE such as Sign of  the Beaver (I also recommend the movie based on the book Keeping the Promise), Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans and Landmark History of American People some of these being ones that others said were difficult to get through. At first, I have to admit I was a little skeptical about this curriculum, “how could we learn about history by just reading books” again I was wrong to think this, we have learned SO much, even me a self proclaimed history buff!  The Holzmanns have weeded out all the nonsense books and have truly given a blessed history curriculum in Sonlight! 
We have finished the Armor of God Bible study we started in the Summer. This should not have taken so long but we had some interesting discussions that came from these lessons, so all in all I am happy with it. After much searching on my part for our next  Bible study I decided on Apologia’s Who is God? because it offers in it’s reviews what I am wanting for my children, a way for them to “ discern among competing ideas and stand in the truth”. I am excited about this and can not wait to start it.   We also started the series What’s in the Bible, starting with Why Do We Call It Christmas over our break and continuing on through the Bible Series. I am excited about these also, and can’t wait to dive in!

December marked our halfway point and in all this year has been our best year, of course last year I felt the same! We have been blessed beyond what we deserve, and I can not thank God enough for giving us the blessed opportunity to homeschool.  I look at my little ones everyday and do not regret the decision I have made, I truly feel blessed to be a part of this experience with my children, to have them with me each and everyday, to know exactly what they are doing and what they are learning, that is the job God gave me as their mother and I can, with my whole heart say I am doing my part!
Until next time!


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