Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Cleopatra, Knucklebones, Imagination, & Date

MFW Highlights:

We should have just completed our sixth week on the MFW schedule but we just completed the fourth.  I'm ok with it though because we have already taken some educational field trips which were well worth our time.

This week in history, we continued reading Augustus Caesar's World, learning about Mark Antony's love life and the battles it provoked.  I found that reading it aloud while the kids eat their lunch seems to work well.  (Their mouths are occupied with food so they're less likely to talk!)  Although, the story has become so interesting that I haven't had many problems with it holding their attention.  In fact, we were so engrossed with the Antony and Cleopatra saga that we read beyond what was scheduled one day, anxious to know what happened next!  I usually summarize what we've read, have the kids narrate it back to me, or do a Q&A after each reading.  This helps us to keep things straight.  On more difficult chapters, I sometimes read it myself and just summarize it to the kids.

We started reading The Bronze Bow this week.  At first, I was skeptical.  By the time we ended the first chapter, Emily was hooked.  She said "I have to admit, when I first saw the book I thought it was going to be boring.  But I actually like it!"  Now that's something to get excited about!  Any excitement Emily expresses about a book is also exciting to me, even if I'm the one reading it!  I did not include Katie on this one.  She gets her own bedtime stories.

The Rome book is wonderful.  It has some really great illustrations and projects in it.  And even though the projects are not always assigned, we've done some on our own anyway.  On Tuesday, we sculpted "knuckle bones" from clay so we can play the Knucklebones game.

Emily even sculpted a little dish to put her bones in.

I often open the Rome book up to the assigned page(s) and leave it on a table.  Emily is naturally drawn to it, so I often don't even have to tell her to read it.  She just does.  Most of the time, she is more interested in the projects and pictures, but she still reads the text that goes along with it.  Her curiosity gets the best of her!

Our Bible time is spent reading the assigned scriptures and beginning to memorize the books of the New Testament.  I still have the girls recite the OT books about once a week, just to keep them fresh on our minds.  This time is special to me because we always go beyond just reading the Scriptures.  We discuss them and think of how we can apply them.  We exchange examples of what they mean in our own lives.  And we were blessed early this week with great weather so that we could have these discussions out on the patio.

Spelling We don't do Spelling Power, as recommended by MFW.  We've tried various spelling books and just started a new one with Emily this week: Spelling by Sound and Structure.

Grade 5 Spelling Workbook

It's heavy on phonics which I haven't done with Emily for quite some time.  So the first lesson served as a good refresher on how vowel sounds are marked in the dictionary.  Some might think this has little or no value in the big scheme of things.  And let's be honest, most of the time, no one even cares that a long u has a horizontal line above it.  That is, unless you need to know the pronunciation of a strange word and must find it in the dictionary.  Knowing how to decode those markings has immense value in that respect.

For Emily, we are still using Intermediate Language Lessons and Writing Strands, although she hasn't started back into either of them yet this fall.  I know that's just awful, isn't it?  I guess we are slow people because it seems to take us all day to accomplish everything else!  We're getting there.  Emily has been reading nearly every day, and mostly without even begin told to, which is a huge step.  She still tends to choose easier books, so once in a while I'll throw out a few challenging that she must choose from.

Katie has kept up with her reading and writing and is nearing the end of her first grade book.  She's so excited!  To help her to learn singular and plural, we used sticky notes.

I wrote a word on each sticky note and Katie stuck them under the correct heading.  It worked out really great.

Now this child, Katie, is intelligent and imaginative, but needs to hone in on her abilities.  She has recently been saying that she's stupid.  After being disciplined about name-calling, even to herself, she then started saying that she's "not smart."  Oh, this child.  I remember Emily doing the same thing at about the same age.  So I know that it passes.  I just have to be patient and encouraging.

I can't resist sharing a couple of Katie's Bible story summaries.  The first one is from the story of Samson and how God gave him strength one last time to take down the enemies.  Take a close look at her drawing...

In case you didn't notice, one dude was decapitated and blood is gushing out from his lifeless body laying on the ground!  Oh my!!!  I'm not sure if I should be concerned or impressed.  She's been listening in on Emily's history readings, which have involved the chopping of heads.  And, we went to the Renaissance Festival a couple weeks ago.  I just never expected the violence to translate into my baby girl's drawing!  Especially not this child, who is so kind, caring, and considerate of others.

The other summary made me laugh at the end because she wrote "King Saul was afraid of Goliath.  Goliath was a giant.  David was a boy but was not afraid.  He killed Goliath with a sling shot and a rock.  Goliath went down."  That last sentence is what tickles me!  "Goliath went down."  I wish you could hear the tone in Katie's voice as she's says this.  Too funny!

For the first time in a long time, Emily struggled with her math one day.  She missed four out of 18 problems on her review sheet.  We did math late that day and I think her mind was toast.  We are still plugging away with RightStart which I still love, for the most part.  We are starting to skip over parts of lessons that Emily has already mastered.  I know that the practice is good and I still incorporate practice in other living ways.  One evening, Emily took it upon herself to complete her practice sheet for the next day.  She was so proud to show me it was already done and I was proud of her.  Initiative!  I love it!!!  And it saved a little time the next day.

Katie isn't working much on math right now, although she has a couple math workbooks that she's been doing.  One came from her grandma; a multiplication book which she was anxious to open up even though she hasn't started multiplication yet.  I figured it can't hurt, so I let her do it.  She actually did pretty well.  She understands the beginning concept anyway, which is a big step.  I haven't done any RightStart lessons with her over the past few weeks because we've been focusing on reading.  It was a good move because she is now reading the problems in her math workbooks mostly on her own.  You have no idea how huge this is!  I might even call it miraculous!  We might be able to get back with RightStart this coming week.

The weekend was busy but was topped off with a Sunday date with Hubs to the football game.  Our seats were inside a suite where we enjoyed free food and drinks including chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick!  But, of course, I was there to watch the game! (wink)  Really, the game was great.  Our team won and I found that it's much more enjoyable to watch football in person than to watch it on TV.  :)

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