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!


  1. My boys are using the extra parts of speech stencil every day. The boys keep getting flummoxed by possessive adjectives the past few weeks.

    One of the boys used to do the USA map by color like that. I think it was Me Too. Whoever it was used to say it was "satisfying."

    That quadrinomial chicken scratch is terrifying. I don't want to do it.

    I don't think anyone likes the subtraction strip board as much as the addition strip board.

    I have a file somewhere with equation slips for the the snake game. If I find it I'll send it your way. I wouldn't want to discourage him from making up his own equations, and like you said, maybe moving on is the answer. However, throwing an equation at him once in a while that ISN'T all paired in tens might make you feel better. My boys used to ask me to make the snake so that they could "solve it."

    Isn't SOTW just fun fun fun? If we just could stop getting stuck...

    1. Satisfying is a lot better than OCD. That is funny. I didn't notice until that photo that D was actually placing the states BY color and that he had placed each state in exactly where it would go. Now, we need to learn the names of each state.

      I think you need to take on the language part of our curriculum. I'll do your math. The quadrinomial written out that way, I don't know if this was actually IN the lesson. Jessica?? We just did this because T likes multiplying letter variables and I wanted him to see how many terms there were without relying upon something physical. Distributive. You'll do fine. Oh, you'll do the binomial and trinomial before this, so the multiplication will seem more familiar at this stage.

      Haha about the subtraction strip board. D "ooh'ed" at the blank strips, but then tired of them quickly. By the end of the addition strip board, he tired of the strips and just did the equations by counting boxes with his pencil eraser end.

      I did on occasion set up the snake for D without all ten-pairs. He gave me this look, like "really?"

      Yes. SotW is fun. My kids ask for this. They want to do this lesson first EVERYDAY. At first we weren't writing narrations, or memorizing cards. But this work that I had originally thought might be boring hasn't deterred them at all.

      I haven't found the "right" SotW pace for us yet. But, T just taught me something interesting yesterday. After finishing the early Crete chapter, he asked to see our book about Greek mythology. He found that these Gods just weren't as interesting to him at this time and he retrieved all of those Egyptian mythology books and settled in for some serious study. I am not planning on pausing our Ancient Greek progression so he can go back and revisit the Ancient Egypt. But I am thinking that when the next topic that really interests him comes up, he is going to want to dive into that. I also fully suspect that he is going to end up back in Egyptian mythology again before he hits it in the next go-around.

      All in all, I am super thankful that we happened upon this curriculum. It has really helped me, and my guys get excited about studying history.

  2. Oh, and the MAIN thing I wanted to say was:

    You can't just say something like "I'm planning big changes in our homeschooling in the near future" and title your post "changes afoot" and NOT TELL ME WHAT YOU MEAN. Now I will not sleep. I will lay awake wondering until you tell us.

    1. Okay, now, you and I are equal...or almost equal. I am laying awake nauseated by visions of gigantic beetles squished under your shower door and you can lay awake in a cycle of deep thought and wonder about what changes exactly are afoot.

    2. Kal-El prefers the Greek gods to the Egyptian. He has read many of Rick Riordan's books. One part of the Percy Jackson series is for teenagers so be careful (check in Common Sense Media). Kal-El likes the Percy Jackson books because those are the Greek gods. However, he also read the Kane Chronicles which is the Egyptian.

      Riordan has also just started a series on Norse mythology:

    3. T and Kal-El, should have a "god" meet and greet.

  3. I want to know the changes too!!!! There will be TWO of us lying awake at night, wondering!? ;) hehe

    Boys and their gods ---- my son has informed me that all his studies have finally started thoughts (doubts) in his mind about the True God and the presence of an actual "evil one". I need to stop allowing him to read Percy Jackson and other Riordan books, no more ancient history, etc. and (get this!) BRAINWASH him back into Christianity.

    Um. No son, that is NOT how this works. ;)

    We did have some really good discussions about discernment, we read about foreign gods from the Bible --- did you know the Bible does not say that other gods do NOT exist? It just says that they are false "gods" in that they have no true power except that which we humans give them, meaning that we are more powerful than they are, etc. I could go on - it was an awesome conversation! I LOVE homeschooling, I LOVE the Montessori approach, because these are the very conversations I want him to come to ME about it (or his Godfather or Godmother) rather than classmates.

    So he's back into Riordan ;) All is well.

    1. Jessica, thanks for the heads-up there! I wonder if T will be thinking something similar. You make me laugh out loud!!

      The larger changes are that we are going to go more classical. But you all probably figured that out already. I plan to use the Classical curriculum will help the us explore language, literature, science, history and foreign languages. And maybe the not so littlest change is that we will be doing some religion study at home. I just don't feel that our CCD classes are cutting it. How we mesh this all, that still remains to be seen. :)

  4. Long math problems are all on the child ;)

  5. Wow! D has shot so far ahead in math and language! For awhile it seemed my son was "just a bit" behind D but he has not made any progress in language for months, maybe even going backwards in hearing sounds in words and now he's even stagnating in math. Boo! I like showing him pictures of D working to inspire him. :-)

    1. It happens. Children like to linger on plateaus a lot. D had learned how to blend written sounds and read words, but it was several months before he began to try to pick out words and read them on his own.

      D also kinda got off his plateau in the math department and is flying ahead. Maybe some of his older brother is rubbing off on him. I think we will begin finger charts today.

      Don't worry, your son will probably surprise you and burst forward when he is ready. And he may shoot ahead of D! Spring is here. That is interesting. D is pausing a bit. When he isn't doing "work" he has his little wellie boots on and is playing with water and mud. We follow the child. We trust that they know where they need to go. And when. :)

  6. Girl your blog gets me so excited! I'm so motivated with all your pictures. And I'm totally shocked that you have only just now decided on a more classical route. With your college prep thinking for your elementary aged children and all, I just figured you would have leaned towards classical education much Did you end up reading The Well Trained Mind?

    Anyway, we are still using Montessori and always will but I'm definitely using the classical education resources as my guide to make sure I cover everything there is to cover. Like MyBoysTeacher said in one of her blog posts, something to the effect of, using the the Bauer's standards instead of the public school standards and you'll be all set. That is my goal anyway. Plus seeing how much there is to cover helps keep me on track and not slack off so much :).

    And I'm so amazed at how much T is doing in math! That is awesome! The boy is going to whiz through algebra. I'm pretty sure he'll be needing to sign up for college course math work when he is 13 which is about "normal" if we follow the child! Right on track! Great work!