Friday, September 03, 2010

Dipping in a toe. . .

We made a start with homeschooling this week, but it was a gentle beginning with fun activities and/or visits with friends happening most afternoons, once the basics were were covered in the (yawn! eyes open yet?) morning.

First thing (while kids are eating breakfast or just after--quick, snag them before they run off!): we light a candle and read aloud either, from Michael Clay Thompson's Language Arts (MCTLA), Music of the Hemispheres, or, from Sonlight Core 5, All the Small Poems (and Fourteen More), and then the day's portion of our Core 5 read-aloud book.  This week: Seabird, by Holling C. Holling.  I usually have the older two write down the "words to know" from the Sonlight read-aloud guide.  J.J. likes to join in and tends to illustrate his words.

After reading together, Jazz and Jane are off to their workboxes, and J.J. is off to Legoland-in-the-Living-Room.  His workboxes are filled with Montessori activities and Five-in-a-Row (FIAR) books, but right now we get to those when the spirit moves one or the other of us.

Workbox #1: Both of the older two are doing another round of Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting, with a focus on cursive. In the past, Jazz learned the serifs that go with the cursive italic letters, but somehow never got in the habit of connecting the letters, so his handwriting is spiky, and since he writes quite small, it can be difficult to decipher.  Soon I'm hoping to alternate handwriting and copywork.

Workbox #2: Sonlight Core 5's Eastern Hemisphere Explorer.  I had debated about using this part of the curriculum, but am very glad I went ahead and bought it.  Used in conjunction with World Book Encyclopedia 2010 software (which has a fun Mussorgsky intro. that sent us down a rabbit trail for a bit), the guide challenges students to find out a little bit of information each day about the region they are studying.  For instance, yesterday's task was to compare and contrast three regions of islands in the Pacific (Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia).  They also get to "choose an adventure," to be completed by the end of that region's study, which can take the form of a detailed drawing, a mini-report, the preparation of a meal, a mock journal entry, or another out-of-the-ordinary task to tie up what they've learned.

This workbox also contains a Book of Time for each kid.  More on this later. . .

Workbox #3: Jane is continuing with Writing with Ease, while right now Jazz has Sonlight's How to Do a Research Project to read while we wait for Grammar Town to get here (should be arriving on the Big Brown Truck any day now).  I was going to split the levels and go with Grammar Voyage, since Jazz already has a pretty solid background in grammar, thanks to First Language Lessons, levels 3 and 4, but decided to keep everything in the same level and use Grammar Town as a refresher course.  There's nothing like coming at a subject from a different angle to help make things stick in the ol' noggin.

Workbox #4: Jazz is loving Caesar's English so far.  Michael Clay Thompson's word roots curriculum is far, far different than traditional vocabulary programs like Wordly Wise, or even Vocabulary from Classical Roots, which we also really liked last year.  Thompson's love for language resonates on every page, inspiring students to love it, too.  Jane has her Sonlight reader in box #4--this week it's Henry Reed, Inc.

Workbox #5: I've given Jane the Writing Skills book by Diana Hanbury King that Jazz used for a bit, but am not sure this is a great match for her.  I'm sorely tempted by the Island level of MCTLA, but feel like I have already donated a kidney to Royal Fireworks Press and need to wait until it grows back before I can order from that company again.  She probably gets enough (for now) from Writing with Ease (narration, copywork, dictation, and narration, in four-day cycles), so this box will probably become the First Language Lessons box.

Jazz has his pseudo-Sonlight reader in this box.  Pseudo because a) he reads at a much higher level than most of the Core 5 books, but mostly because b) he and his sister would find something to fight about if they were reading the same book at the same time.  This week, instead of Henry Reed, Inc, he's reading Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, which we somehow missed in the past, to go with the seafaring theme of both Seabird and the Pacific Island region of Core 5's first couple of weeks.  Jazz also has a few pages of Ships, Sailors, and the Sea to read each day, and that book is kept here, too.  ("Why do I have to read two books in this box?" said in his best petulant twelve-year-old voice.  I immediately pictured him curled up in the box, reading.  Somehow, the humor didn't translate.)

And that's it for this week.  I'm currently gathering ideas for next week's "fun" learning, which will hopefully include some Polynesian cooking (using Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen and Kids Around the World Cookthe making of tissue paper flowers, and very likely the viewing of a surfing DVD or two.  Workboxes #6 through #9 will be added eventually, and will have science, Latin, art, music, and hopefully foreign language in them at some point.


Sarah in deepest, darkest Lomellina said...

I've just discovered the concept of workboxes, am thinking it good work very well for us.

It would help me be more organised and give Son of Thor more of opportunity for ownership of his day (well, morning).

So all I need to do now is persuade my husband to take me to IKEA so I can get the boxes I have my beady eye on....and about 7 million other items that will delight me once I'm there (=

sheila said...

I'll be interested to see how Caesar's English works for you - I was intrigued by it as well.

Anonymous said...

I might need to try some workboxes for subjects, I think. So the kids can choose an activity from each... hmmm. Thanks for posting about your workboxes.