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.


  1. I love frogs. I really freaked out my husband when we were first married because when I found a frog in the yard I would bring it in to show him. Not very girly I guess. I don't think I would have liked it on my head. I did have him come upstairs to kill a very large beetle last week after having tried to catch it on my own unsuccessfully several times. He killed it by rolling over it with the barn-door-like shower door. Then I was super grossed out. I went out for drinks with my sister and left him to make it look like that had never happened by the time I got back.

    Unlike super gross beetles crushed under the shower door roller I refuse to be freaked out by college. T is in what, third grade? When Kal-El was in third grade he was so inspired by the Roman Empire that he announced that he should conquer our cul-de-sac. Boy, would our neighbors have been surprised. I guess there's a better chance of T going to Hopkins than Kal-El building an empire starting with conquering our senior citizen neighbors, but try not to worry about it.

    That's great that you are using the SOTW cards. I kind of wish I had used those. I think I might start but wish I had started at the beginning. There is likely to be some complaining as they have to learn how to put all of book one in order all at once. I always meant to put up a timeline wire in the basement to put them on but never got the basement clean enough to do it and now a whole book has gone by.

    We are behind you in the squaring and cubing section. It's fun to see what's coming.

    1. Oh, goodness. Gross. Super gross. Ack. Now I am going to have nightmares.

  2. You're giving your children a Montessori elementary education and you're *worried* about college? You've got this covered!


    1. Thank you all for your calming well wishes. They are appreciated!!

  3. Too funny. I stopped worrying in college after I realized it never helped me do The kids will be fine :).

    School looks like it's going great with you guys! We took off this week to get some stuff done for first communion, but we're back on next week. I know what you mean about getting into a rhythm and then summer getting here. That is pretty much where we are at. I feel like I just got my year planned out nicely and it's almost over. We are going through May and June though and then taking off July completely.

    See you guys soon!

    1. Yes!! We are looking forward to seeing you guys soon!

  4. Hello Abbie...what an amazing blog & great inspiration for homeschoolers. Really love it! I am a former homeschooling Mom myself and Montessori teacher. Let me tell you from the other side of the 'tunnel' & looking back - YOU ARE DOING AMAZINGLY WELL & your children are going to be wonderful contributors to the world as adults. Brava to you & family! I have been trying to contact you via your email address to ask you about using one of your beautiful photos - of bead cubes - which does not include your beautiful children's faces but I haven't heard back from you. Could you please contact me via email? Thank you very much & enjoy your day!

  5. I like how picture rich this blog is. Have you considered selling some of the pictures as stock material?