July 14, 2013

Summer Break 2013

Do you ever feel like you are juggling your children?  I think all mothers, even if you have only one, can relate.  And the more kids you have, the more balls you have to keep in the air!

I know summers are for fun and relaxation, for being outdoors, and especially for a break from school and routine.  However, it is also a time for dentist and doctor appointments so they don't interrupt school days.  (Remember I'm a foster parent, so in addition to my 8 year old, I have 3 other boys right now). I have two boys that are in occupational therapy for sensory issues (SPD) at least once a week, one boy has monthly chiropractic visits, plus there are bi-weekly therapy visits for a different 2 boys.  Some days we have no appointments and I cherish those days.  Other days we may have 3 or 4 places to be, and so I juggle.

Throughout the last eight weeks, the boys have swam at the lake, played in the sprinkler or with water guns.  They have enjoyed the new play set and trampoline and a 3D movie.  They liked Camp Invention and vacation with grandparents.  Still to come in the next 4 weeks is a visit to other grandparents, Communicare day camp, and some more fun family time swimming and playing.

During the time I've had to myself, I've spent time on the AO Forum and reading homeschooling blogs.  I've searched and bought some school books for the upcoming year, took the schedules like last years and tweaked to suit, and started pre-reading the school books (Ambleside Online year 3) so I will be more prepared this year.  I'm also downloading the free audiobooks for those days when I don't have time to read to him, or he wants to listen to extra books before bed.  I went to a homeschooling conference in Nashville with my husband, and we really enjoyed the time together away, listening to Christian speakers and talking with other homeschooling families.  How refreshing that was!  I've also tried to find time to learn to cook some new, healthier (gluten, dairy and soy free) recipes, and am pleased to say that most of them have been quite crowd-pleasing.  I've read some "beach" books (join me on Goodreads to see what I'm reading!), several homeschooling books, and participated in a AO forum discussion on The Scarlet Pimpernel (affiliate link).  To me, nothing says summer like swinging on the front porch with a good book while the kids play!

How have you spent your summer?  What's your favorite part?

July 10, 2013

AO Year 2, Term 3 Review

Now that there's just a month left of summer break, I had better get my review of the last term completed!  We finished AO 2, Term 3 about May 15th, which is nearly 2 months ago now.  Time flies.  Let's see how much I can remember about those last 12 weeks of school....

Here is Ambleside Online Year 2.  This review covers weeks 25-36.

This term's poet was Christina Rossetti.  Most of her poems were short enough that we could read them at least 4 times a piece.  For example, day one we read the first 5 poems.  Day two we read poems 2-6; day three we read 3-7, etc.  If we really dislike one, I may just read it 3 times, and if its a favorite, it gets copied onto an index card and put in the memory box.  We aim for one per term, in addition to the scripture verses that we memorize.

Bible time went through some more changes this term.  I stopped using Calvary Curriculum, because I realized at the pace we were going, we would never make it to the New Testament, and we were both getting bored with it.  We got through Judges in last term, and switched to using this schedule alone, instead of in conjunction with CC.  We covered Samuel through Second Kings.  Here is another option for Bible, but now, AO has a Bible schedule, too!  (Here is AO 2's Bible schedule.)

Our hymns this terms were Ah, Holy Jesus How Hast Thou Offended, When Upon Life's Billows, and All Cratures of Our God & King.  I had heard the last 2 in church as a child, but the first was completely new.  Let's just say that it had to grow on me. :)  We sang them almost daily, before or after Bible time.  We continued with one folk song a month, covering All Through the Night, Maggie, and The Wild Coloniel Boy.  These were fun, as always.

Composer study covered Opera overtures.  All the famous pieces...at least all the opera I had ever heard, which is limited, was covered.  He liked it better than I though he would, possible because his daddy was so excited about the Barber of Seville, as seen in Bugs Bunny, LOL!  Artist was Georges Seurat, the French Impressionist.  He wasn't particularly impressed by these works.

Hunting for frog eggs
For Spanish, we didn't really change anything from term 2.  We tried a few other typing programs, since the fun of Dance-Mat Typing had worn off, and he was getting tired of not succeeding or moving on to the next level.  He ended up liking Typing Club best.

We made it through about 4 McGuffey reading lessons each week, and completed the second grade reader and ended the year in third grade, lesson 19.  I plan on continuing with some McGuffey, but maybe mixing in some Treadwell readers as well.

He completed second grade Rod and Staff Penmanship, and was able to do copywork in cursive at the end.  We will continue to do copywork in cursive for third grade, after a week or two of review so he recalls proper letter formation.  He has been going to occupation therapy (OT) since late April, working on core strength, wrist and hand strength and coordination, and desensitizing him so that the sound and feel of paper don't bother him so much.  His OT is awesome and he loves her.  She sees great improvements in him, and I'm hopeful the coming school year will be more enjoyable for both of us!

He started the second Graded Work in Arithmetic, which starts at operations with the number 20 and goes through 100.  The first week included review, so he breezed through 7 lessons; second week was 5 lessons, then he slowed down to about 4 lessons per week. He got through Lesson 44.  Next year I plan to continue with this book, but we will also add A+ Interactive Math for third grade...if I can get it installed on one of our computers (compatibility issues)!

We slowed piano lessons down to once a week, as we caught up to the end of Mr. Hoffman's freepianolessons4kids.  See more about that here.  I know they are busy adding more lessons, with plans to go to 100, so I'm hoping to continue using this resource for third grade.

First bareback ride
Handicrafts were unfortunately dropped from the schedule this term, although he tried his hand at Soap Carving.  For physical development, we added horseback riding lessons once it got warm enough.  We also repaired the trampoline and got a playset for the yard, complete with a fort and rock wall.

We completed the AO scheduled reads for year 2, and several more of the free reads.  This term he finished Wonderbook for Boys & Girls and Tanglewood Tales, and Brighty of the Grand Canyon.  I hope to get Mary Poppins read before school starts, but we are in Alice in Wonderland (year 3 free read) right now, and also listening to At the Back of the North Wind via Librivox (get the free audio for year 2 here).

I feel like we did a really bad job on nature study this year, although we had our moments.  The weather fluctuated wildly, and we just didn't make the time for it.  We must do better!!  On the other hand, we did finish Bob Jones second grade science book and are in the process of raising tadpoles.  Once they turn into froglets, a post will be forthcoming. :)