Friday, December 16, 2011

Homeschool Week 16

Just a few notes on our last week of school before we head to Iowa for Christmas break!

The older three continued to journey with the Israelites in the wilderness.  We covered the stories of the 12 spies, bronze serpent, and the death of Moses and the beginnings of Joshua's leadership including sending the two spies to Jericho.    This week we also took a brief look at what types of civilizations were forming in the Americas during this time specifically reading about the Olmecs in Mexico and the Chavin in Peru.  We didn't really have any hands-on activities this week other than tracing the 40 year wilderness journey of the Israelites on a map and cutting out and placing a few more landmarks on our 3D map.

For science we did begin our Day 4 unit on the sun, moon, stars and solar system.  Some of the experiments are just not that workable for this time of year, i.e. going outside with a blanket, looking up at the stars and finding constellations.  Never mind that it rained most of the week and, therefore, not only was it cold and wet, it was obviously also cloudy.  One afternoon (Monday?) it was very nice so we did a solar system walk.  We wrote the names of the planets on note cards and starting with the sun at our house, walked off so many steps for each planet to get an idea of how big the solar system is.  It took about 3/4 of a mile to place them all!   I am sure we looked goofy, taking big giant steps down the sidewalk while counting, then stopping to place a note card on the sidewalk, anchoring it in place with rocks Lydia was keeping in the hood of her coat.    When we had finished placing them all we turned around to retrace our steps, pick up the note cards, and again get an idea on the spacing of the planets from each other and the sun.  Just as we turned around and picked up our "Neptune" card that afternoon, we met a man walking with two girls, maybe around Anna and Lydia's age.  They must have been following us for awhile because he smiled and asked, "Have you seen Neptune?  We're looking for Neptune.  Don't tell me we've come this far only to miss Neptune!."   Thought that was cute.

And of course, we continue to plug along with English, Math, and Spelling.  We didn't get to music or art this week but can catch up on that in January when we are back in a regular schedule.

Seth's week was all about "horses" for the letter "h".  We read a few factual books about horses this week and watched the movie "The Black Stallion."   Because trained horses obey right away (they don't think about if they want to obey or not) the words for this week that Seth learned were, "I obey right away."  The curriculum suggested reading the story of Jonah as an example of someone who did not obey right away.   So, this morning I asked Seth if he was familiar with the story of Jonah.  He proceeded to tell the story with remarkable detail (I may have to transcribe that one next).  When he finished I said, "That is great, buddy!  You knew that story very well."  He gave his head a quick nod and affirmed confidently,  "I nailed it."  Now if he can just "nail" the "obey right away" words we are trying to enforce this week...

The highlight of "horse" week, though, was visiting Connie Meekhof and her boys at their new home and riding her horse!   If you remember, we met Connie and her boys at BSF last year and went sledding on their hill a couple times and swimming in their pool this summer.  They started out in BSF this fall, but dropped out after a few weeks because her life got pretty hectic as they bought a new acreage and were moving the week of Thanksgiving.  I called her a few times to see if I could help, but it never worked out as her boys were extremely busy with the Lego robotics program.  So when I called her this week to see if she wanted to go the the museum with us, she invited us over to see their new home instead.  They have a beautiful big home (6000+ sq ft), still have a large in-ground pool in the backyard, and now also have a horse pasture and stables for her horse, Finer.  It was a little cool and misty on Wednesday afternoon, but Connie was more than happy to do the "horse thing" with the kids.

The boys seemed to enjoy archery more than the horse

The favorite horse books that we looked at this week were Horses by Gail Gibbons; The True or False Book of Horses by Patricia Lauber; and Why Do Horses Neigh by Joah Holub.

We did go to the GR Public Museum on Tuesday night ( instead of with the Meekhof's on Wednesday).  They had a special laser Christmas show in the planetarium that we saw and then quickly walked through their new exhibit (BIG items from storage) and the Civil War exhibit (Russ hadn't seen it yet).  We picked up a little pamphlet at the front desk that gave clues to where 15 Santas and 12 elves were hidden around the museum.  We didn't find them all, of course, but we had fun spotting the ones we did find.

Last night we attended Nicolas' home school Christmas concert.  I think it ran a little more smoothly this year, but it is still a lo-o-o-ong concert.  It started at 7:00 and when we ducked out at 9:00 they still had 4-5 more groups that had to perform.  I know, concert etiquette says you should stay to the end, but not all my kids (or husband!) are home schooled.  Russ and Caleb both had to take a final this morning.  We had promised the kids that we could run to Applebees afterwards for 1/2 price appetizers like we did last year.  Once you've done it twice is it an official tradition?   We were home by 10:00 and Russ and Caleb reviewed for their tests while I put the other four to bed.  Caleb quickly followed, but Russ was up until almost 1:00.  I kept him company by dipping pretzels in the kitchen while watching Return to Cranford.  

I think that is all the news from the week.  The Lord willing tomorrow evening we will be in Sioux Center enjoying time with family and taking a much needed break from school!

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