Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Changes Afoot

Thank you for the "don't stress out advice." I'll try not to. I've got 7 years or so to learn how to "stop stressing."

I am planning big changes to our homeschooling in the near future. I am trying to reconfigure a bunch of things so that T can be at the level he needs to be, and S can be at her level, and D can be, well, at what ever level he shakes out to be. He is a confusing one that one.
Right now, T is really, really, really, really, really into Egyptian mythology. Here he is doing some book reading about the Egyptian gods. This study follows our ancient history theme.
He was pulling information from few library books and a number of our own volumes. After reading and browsing the pictures, he and I had a conversation during which he told me a large number of facts that he had found interesting. I wrote down his narration and he then copied it over in his own handwriting. We talked a bit about spelling and grammar in the middle of all this too. Then he set to work drawing Thoth, Ammit, and Anubis and the feather of truth. Sorry about the picture above. I think that the top of his fuzzy head was in focus and his writing project was out of focus.
Here T is locating the Tigris, Euphrates, and Nile rivers. I think that we had also gotten to ancient Greece by the time I snapped this and he was also locating the Aegean Sea and Crete. He said with surprise, "they are still there!"
Lately, we've been following the prescribed Story of the World curriculum a bit more closely. Each child has been doing narrations after I read from the story book. This is S's narration for the Early Life in Crete chapter. 
 This was what T wrote about the Minoans. The stared sentence is a "remember to look this up later" reminder.
And this is what D narrated to me aloud. I wrote down his narration and he copied it. Then I translated it for you.

Here S is coloring her review cards. There is a card for each chapter and we do this as memory work.
This week I decided to focus on only one History chapter section at a time. Here S is illustrating a narration, different from the one above, I wrote down for her, about the same chapter on Early Crete.
This was D's narration and illustration response to the chapter section about the volcano on the island of Thera.
On to topics less classical and more Montessori. T is finally doing his long division abstractly with just a pencil and a paper, and his brain.
S is still in the first go-around for long division. She is moving beads and writing down her quotient only. After digit divisors, we'll circle back around and write down partial remainders, then distributions and partial remainders and then finally get into the abstract long division.
D is doing his subtraction strip board now. He isn't loving this one as much as the addition strip board, and I've found that he doesn't like the snake game. He just doesn't choose this subtract strip board as much as he did the addition strip board. And when ever I peek at his addition snakes, they are always organized in bead-bar pairs that equal ten. For example, he always has the bead bar of 1 next to the bead bar of 9. I am thinking it might be time to move on to some of the finger charts and really get that memorization of facts sequence going.
T worked on a little bit of cubing the other day. Here he is deriving all of the terms for a quadrinomial. I had to help a bit to keep things organize. But he did all of the multiplication in his head.
The quadrinomial is (a+b+c+d)3. Here T is multiplying (a+b+c+d)2 x (a+b+c+d).

You can see the strips of paper we cut apart. We did our distributive multiplication and multiplied the square through by a, then by b, then by c and last by d. T wrote all of his product terms on one long piece of paper. Then we cut apart these terms (all of the a products, and all of the b products and so on) so it would be easier to see "like terms." He placed the smaller strips of product terms in a list form and set to work, combining like-terms.
This, I think, was his final answer, but formatted a bit weird.
This was my final answer and chicken scratch. I think the next thing is to calculate a trinomial numerically.
This is rare shot of everyone working simultaneously.
D is getting pretty good at the USA puzzle map.
I don't know why he is doing the map this way, but hey, who am I to say much? I am guessing that S taught him to do this. I think that Kansas actually goes there in the middle above the pan-handle of Oklahoma. And somehow little D knows how big Michigan must be to know where to place Illinois. 

He is snacking on some greasy cheese curds from Wisconsin there.
D is doing some more grammar. He really, really, really enjoys this exploration. Here is one his recent adjective exercises. I write the ticket. He reads it. Chooses which object it describes and then assigned each word a Montessori grammar symbol.
Here we are working with the farm. Again, I wrote the ticket, he read it, and then cut apart the words. He found which object I was describing and then assigned each word a Montessori grammar symbol.

Then he taped his words onto blank copy paper and used our grammar stencil to assign each word a Montessori grammar symbol.
I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but this grammar intro sequence is a bit different than the elementary sequence. D is still 4 years old and so this introduction is more of an exploration, than a formal study. 
I've found that this type of activity keeps D busy for a while. I only need to check in periodically and write tickets. In between, I am able to assist T and S with their work.

And that is it for now! Check back soon for more!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Finally In a Rhythm and It Is Almost Summer Vacation

It is planning central over here. With summer so near, I am trying to figure which parts we'll get through before we break, and which parts we'll need to save for August. I am also deciding which parts of our "curriculum" to keep, and which to toss, and which to augment.

I've also been a bit too wrapped up in researching college admissions processes. The other day T casually told me, "I think I'll go to Hopkins." And then while cradling a very-hard-rubber-ball-that-could-easily-break-my-glass-you-name-it in his lacrosse stick, he said, "but I'll have to be a good schooler." He is almost 10.

I don't know for how long we'll be homeschooling. I don't know where who will specialize. I don't know where anyone will want to intern. I don't know where anyone will want to volunteer. I don't know a lot, but there are a few things that I do know. To gain admission at the most competitive colleges homeschoolers need to produce very competitive scores on standardized test. While so many have moved away from this method of student evaluation, I've read that many competitive top-tier institutions make an exception for homeschoolers and mandate SAT or ACT test scores. Strong recommendations from teachers, employers, and/or mentors are a must. Recommendations from parents are a big "no." And a well thought out, meticulously recorded, transcript is also part of the homeschooler admissions application. So, start counting those credit hours in 8th or 9th grade (8th, if your child is taking courses that are credit-worthy) and actually plan where and when you are going to take which AP exam. And if you want to be recruited to play ball somewhere (or do something else athletic that doesn't involved spheres whizzing around at a D-I school) well, as a homeschooler you'll have to contend with the NCAA and jump through some more hoops to prove your homeschooling was legit.

Okay, now I know enough to worry and fret. I figure if I plan to prepare T to apply to a college that accepts somewhere close to a measly 11% of its applicants, and then he decides not to "settle on Hopkins" we'll have come out ahead and just apply to a lower tier school with less worry. Notice I said "less worry." I don't think that I could let a day go by without worrying about something.

Enough of my planning the rest of our lives and on to more important issues at hand like this blog post. 

I took a peek at what was in the camera and I was surprised that there were so many shots that haven't made it up here yet! Time to get cracking.
Now, that I look at this shot I cringe a bit. There is NO work rug!! And he is jumping over the sandpaper letters putting them all in harms way. One small fall and "m" is now an "n" and an "i." He was jumping around practicing his symbols and sounds. We have a couple more phonograms to learn, but by golly, this little guy can READ now!!!
 And he can write. I think he said he made a pattern of letters on the green board.
This is T's writing. He wrote something that D wanted to say about his cars. They were using the dictation and copy strategy from Writing With Ease without knowing it!
Then D used our printed alphabet from Alison's Montessori to write something that I couldn't decipher.
D has been following along with our All About Spelling Lessons. He is writing the dictation words and short phrases right along with T and S. He can't write as fast as they do, but he can write spell pretty well. I think I wrote about this last time too.
D also likes to write on the iPad. And he likes to use punctuation marks at the end of his sentences.
We use All About Spelling as our systematic spelling curriculum.
I am planning to introduce Latin next year. I was looking at the curriculum, and thought, wow, this is simple enough that D will probably demand his own book and want to do it with T and S. Great. Now I need to buy another book. And it could be helpful for him to have a bit of grammar background before he starts. WHO DOES Latin in kindergarten? D does. He could wait. Waiting is probably preferable. But he always wants to do the same thing as his brother and sister, and learning Latin will be no different. Heck, he does Stories of the World with them too. 

So, maybe later I'll explain what this botched mess is in the shot above. I did read the presentation from the Keys of the World album before doing this, but evidently not in enough detail. D figured out what the noun was, and how it was different from the article, and then was very glad to symbolize his phrases just like he's seen his older siblings doing.
How can someone with baby toes be doing a grammar introduction?
This is some of his symbolized, illustrated, work. That is my handwriting. He just read it and noted each part of speech. 
Like I said, D is right in the mix when it comes to HISTORY!! My kids yell for their Story of the World "lesson." No, we don't do this very Montessori. I follow the lesson plan in the book, mostly. And we are doing some of the memorization. D is so cute when he says words like "Tutankhamen." Anyway, I digress. D here is putting together his "review" cards. 

This is what the first card looks like. They come with in the Student Packets and are for memorization. Each card has a few sentences that summarize the story chapter and a small illustration that is usually from one of the coloring pages. These are from the first volume, the Ancient Times. I am thinking we will be ready for the second volume, The Middle Ages, come the fall.
And there is the reading. I actually just heard my husband say to my daughter, "S, stop reading and brush your teeth." They like to read. They are reading more since I started reading to them. I am not reading aloud hours upon hours anymore. More than an hour a day to be sure, but not more than 2. Usually.
I've instituted a daily rule that everyone read for 40 minutes. I read too. I love reading, but don't get to read for pure pleasure much anymore. I am always researching something, like college admissions. Today, I read a cookbook which was not purely research. It was actually highly entertaining and had lots of little stories and anecdotes.

For now, we also try to read outside. Eventually it will become too hot. My doctor said that I should be getting serious sun-skin exposure everyday. It has helped my mood, my energy levels, my brain-fog (which has lifted considerably) and my sleeping. But because we live in the southern part of the country, my arms look like I just went to the beach for a week, and it is still APRIL.  
Here T is doing math, but he should be reading too.

And then, the other day, during a break from my neuro-psychology book, THIS jumped on my head. It was hanging out up there, the kids couldn't get it, and I was worried it would jump in my tea by accident. So I stood on the table to try to get it down. It jumped through my hands and landed on my head. I screamed, it hopped down and then I spent the next few minutes chasing it around the patio because the kids were yelling to me to catching because they wanted to "pet" it. I caught it finally, held it long enough for each kid to pet it and then let it go in a low muddy part of the backyard. (The backyard was a bit muddy because it had been raining for 7 days straight.) After that excitement I washed my hands, got a fresh cup of tea, and resumed reading my book about knowledge acquisition.

I texted my husband about this incident after it had happened and he texted me back, "are you kidding?" Why would I kid about something like this?
D started the addition snake game. Oh, wait, I think I already mentioned this.
D has finished working with the addition strip board.

We reviewed some more geometry terms relating to angles.
Then we classified our detective triangles by their angles (obtuse, acute, right) and by their sides (equilateral, isosceles, scalene.)

We also reviewed how to measure angles, and add angles, and subtract angles.
D worked on the US puzzle map.
S worked on improper fractions, mixed numbers, and adding fractions with different denominators.

And finally, T derived the algebraic equation for the binomial and trinomial cubes. I can't really tell you how I presented this using the KotU albums because I don't remembering presenting anything. T just kinda figured it out on his own. Seriously. He said something like, "I'll tell you when I am finished mommy," and pushed me out of the equation. (Haha)

The equation is: (a+b+c)3=a3+3a2b+3a2c+b3+3b2a+3b2c+c3+3c2a+3c2b+6abc.

Above, you can see that the red cube is a3, the blue cube is b3 and the yellow cube is c3.
Here I've labeled all of the different prisms and cubes. T likes to combine like terms in his head but here he combined like terms on the table.
The cube in the shot above is a partially-put-back-together trinomial cube that T has used since primary. It is so neat how the curriculum guides the child to come back full circle and dig deeper.
This was the T's equation. Next up, he'll derive the algebraic equation for a quadrinomial.
And D is officially finished with the dot game.
He is super glad about that.