Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rhythm, Building a Dam, Treasured Books, Math Practice, and Zoology

 We've been keeping up with our weekly kayaking.

Rowing is great exercise, but it can also be very soothing.
When we row together, we have to keep a steady rhythm,
communicate clearly, and work as a team.

It's been great for us.

We've been enjoying a new nature trail in our town.

Building a dam in the river out back.

Lu finished D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths.
He was actually teary-eyed when he said
"Mama, I just read the last one."

We continue reading Aesop's Fables
for morning read-aloud once a week.

They're short and fun,
and always give us something
to talk about.

With his youth group,
Lu learned how to make these cute little boxes.

We read about the Amazon Rain Forest,
and learned about the Green Anaconda
and the Morpho Butterfly.

Lu gets really excited when learning about new animals.
We'll have to further explore this zoological enthusiasm.

 We also started watching this BBC series on The Life of Birds.

And we worked on graphs and long division.

Today I realized that we really need to slow down with the new math concepts and focus on practicing and mastering everything we've seen so far. Lu is good at math, so it's easy for me to just keep throwing new stuff at him, and getting ahead in leaps and bounds. But then we take a few steps back, and he doesn't remember something we saw a couple of weeks ago, or it starts getting jumbled up.  So it'll be practice, practice, practice for a while. There will be time for percentages and ratios later.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Math Bits, Buying Books, and the River Out Back

We've had a pretty worksheet-free couple of months. We were ahead in all our worksheet packets, so we took a little break from them (which was very nice). But now we're going to get back on them for a while, to make sure we have the packets finished and all our bases covered.

So, lately, our days are kind of like this...

Quick 10-minute math review
(about 30 problems like these) with Dads Worksheets

(4 worksheets in about 30 min) 

 New math concept with this resource.
(anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes) 
I'm still not really even sure if this resource is for 4th grade, some of it seems more middle school. But we like how straightforward and easy to follow it is. We leave some of the problems from each new concept for a review at the end of the chapter.

History -
Reading about Egypt (30 min approx)
He reads 2 pages from this DK Eyewitness Ancient Egypt book, 
and then I ask him questions about the pictures.

What was this thing for?
How was that thing used?

Now, let me sidetrack on the subject of this 
fancy (as in, purchased new) book for a bit...

If you've come here a few times,
you know I'm BIG on FREE stuff.

I'm a Freebie Hunter.

I pride myself on home educating with hardly any expenses.
I brag about how I never spend,
and turn my nose up to those expensive 
pre-packaged homeschools...

but when I started looking on Amazon...
all those lovely books...
(and a relative who was offering to bring them)
I couldn't help myself...

We ordered a bunch of them.

 They're nice. We're using them.

But I don't think I'll make purchases like that again. What I (the barely high school graduate) put together for our History classes was way better - just with the free stuff I found on the internet (documentaries, articles, history papers...). The books weren't really necessary, even though I somehow thought I was upgrading Lu's education by getting them. (duh)

Nevertheless, Lu likes them and the pictures are great. 
So I don't regret getting them. But I've learned my lesson.

Okay... back to our day.
More math...
MEP keeps us on our toes, thinking outside the box, and using our math skills in nifty ways.  Lu is pretty much doing these on his own now. One worksheet takes him about 20 minutes. (we use the Spanish version)

Science -
We continue learning about biomes/ecosystems,
now with this great Animal Hide & Seek book.
This was not part of the Amazon purchase. This was given to Lu when he was about 3 years old. Just something we had on the bookshelf. Have you looked through the books on your bookshelf lately? You just might find some old forgotten book that is perfect for what you happen to be doing right now. I'm always surprised by what I find on ours.

 So, as you can see, basically, it's:
 read, math, read, math, read, math....
And it's what works for us right now. 

Because we're using a few different math resources, it works better for us to break math up into little bits throughout the morning, than to try to sit down to one full hour of it.

All of this was done by about 9:40am.
(we started at 7am)
Then Lu worked a while on some earrings.
(he makes and sells them)

And then we went out back,
to our lovely little river that has just come back
with the recent heavy rains.

The river bed is dry most of the year, 
so we're always very happy when it returns.

It was late this year.

 (a rare glimpse of the mama)

We waded, and threw rocks, and got some sun,
and played with shadows.

The last few months have taught me this most of all:

Not having such a tight schedule let's us take advantage of sunny days - to go outside, take walks, swim, explore, kayak, or just hang out in the yard. And these are all very good things. These are the things we will remember most.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Mad Scientist / Using the Scientific Method

 Well, he's not completely mad, 
 he just has a strange fashion sense
(or he's low on socks).

So, here's Lu's final project for this year's introduction to
The Scientific Method...

(everything in italics is written by Lu)

 How will the height at which you drop a ball 
affect how high it bounces?
(I helped a little with the wording on this one)

I have observed that 
if you drop a rubber ball it will bounce.  
(Mama giggles...)

My hypothesis is that it will bounce a lot more 
each time you drop it at a higher spot.

(there are markers on the wooden post, every 25 cm.) 

Lu tested dropping the ball from 4 different heights, 
6 times each, and documented the results.

We calculated the averages 
and, indeed, the ball bounces higher 
when dropped from a greater height.
Time to type it up....

Just between you and me: I'm relieved to be done with the Scientific Method for a while. I really have a hard time and little patience with the whole thing, not exactly sure why. Next year, we'll be studying famous scientists and their contributions, reading about evolution, and watching science videos - and I love the sound of all of that. We'll come back to the dogforsaken SM later on, when Lu is a bit older. But I guess the exposure was good, and he (strangely) enjoyed it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Clean Desk and Pineapple and Randomness

After almost two months of "half-day school", 
we're supposed to be getting back on track with
our full-day schedule.

But our engines are warming up slowly, 
and we're not quite in gear yet.

A good step in the right direction was 
getting Lu's desk organized. 
 It was covered in stuff during the break, 
and is just now useable again.

He's almost finished reading
which he's absolutely loved.

 We've been doing a lot of singing,
which is my favorite way to start the day.

We choose a song, find it in our music library or on YouTube, google the lyrics, copy and paste to our Word document for songs, and voilá - music class.
(and vocabulary, spelling, reading, computer skills...)

In math, we've been learning about the coordinate plane -

I was a quite disappointed in MEP
when I saw this:

 I hate it when educational resources have references to
disney movies and transnational brands.

Nevertheless, it is an excellent resource, and it's free.

Lu has been great about chopping fruit 
for our mid-morning snack.

For Youth Group, as a Creative Writing assignment,
he was given a poem to memorize, illustrate, and recite.

Lu's really been enjoying these Brain Games 
from the same site we use for geography.

 And here's Lu multi-tasking...

 helping make lunch and reading.

We still haven't started our afternoon history lessons back up. And after going from the Big Bang all the way through the Persian Empire this year, I'm seriously considering postponing Ancient Greece for next year. 

So instead of history,  Lu's been doing random stuff like
picking up some more guitar lessons on the YouTube.

Randomness is good.