Friday, December 12, 2014

Homeschool Weekly Wrap-Up: Birthdays/Christmas Books

I had a baseline mammogram earlier this week and already got a letter saying to come back for further evaluation. Since I knew I had a fibrocystic issue, I suspected this would happen after a baseline (first exam), but it's still a bit nerve-wracking.

Birthday News
When a child has a birthday here, it's also a homeschool holiday. We have two December birthdays six days apart, one of which we're celebrating today. Thus, I have time to write this post!

Mary is turning 8; Mary is her blog name, not her real name. She's my only child without a biblical name. Let me just say there aren't a lot of pretty female biblical names, and she was my first girl. For my second girl, I chose what I think is a pretty name, but an obscure mention only in the Bible, albeit a noble one. Now to the point: "Mary" wants to change her name to Mary. I said all it would take is some paperwork, and I understand how it must feel to be the only child without a biblical name. How about adding it as a nickname, I suggested. She already has a nickname made from her middle name, and we could add Mary to it. Then, when she gets married and changes her last name, if she still wants to change her first name, she could do it at that time.

She's happy with that solution, thank goodness. My heart is getting used to Mary Rose, and I rather love it.

10 Things About the Birthday Girls

Turning 8, Mary loves...
~ frogs, toads and butterflies
~ that God is always watching over her; praise songs
~ playing outside
~ stuffed animals
~ sister and brothers
~ active play
~ playing with balls
~ Christmas trees and Christmas season
~ the Liberty Kids DVD series (about the Revolutionary War and politics in aftermath; she's seen it 5 times!)
~ train tracks and trains
~ making pictures for friends

Turning 6, Beth
~ I have a Bible name
~ I have a stuffed dog named Violet
~ I love doing ballet
~ I love singing
~ I want to ride a pony one day
~ I love princesses (they can wear beautiful pink, pink, pink dresses)
~ I love pink
~ I like pretty pink bows, lollipops, and cupcakes
~ I like my friends Emma and Shelby at church
~ I like that God makes our stress go away, and that princesses don't have stress (She's half right anyway. I'm trying to explain to them lately that stress is not always a bad thing. It's a cue that it's time to sit at the Lord's feet. It's only bad when we let it continue.)
~ I love pretty pink tutus

And last month Paul turned 11, which wasn't documented yet on my blog:

Paul loves...
~ making up board games; playing them
~ active play with balls; football
~ making up cards games
~ making chocolate pie and Russian tea cakes
~ math
~ making homemade presents for his siblings (sewing, knitting, painting)
~ playing chess with Daddy
~ attending local college football and basketball games with Daddy
~ reading the Bible
~ writing devotions

School News

My boys' Sonlight:
The boys are both reading The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare, as part of Sonlight Core G, World History Part 1. I read it to them three years ago as a read aloud. It's outstanding story-telling, gripping, heart-stretching.

Publisher SynopsisHe trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. –from the Song of David (2 Samuel 22:35)
The Bronze Bow, written by Elizabeth George Speare (author of The Witch of Blackbird Pond) won the Newbery Medal in 1962. This gripping, action-packed novel tells the story of eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin—a fierce, hotheaded young man bent on revenging his father’s death by forcing the Romans from his land of Israel. Daniel’s palpable hatred for Romans wanes only when he starts to hear the gentle lessons of the traveling carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth. A fast-paced, suspenseful, vividly wrought tale of friendship, loyalty, the idea of home, community . . . and ultimately, as Jesus says to Daniel on page 224: “Can’t you see, Daniel, it is hate that is the enemy? Not men. Hate does not die with killing. It only springs up a hundredfold. The only thing stronger than hate is love.” A powerful, relevant read in turbulent times.

Other Sonlight News: They're also continuing in Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, and now in Augustus Caesar's World as well.

SynopsisConsidered the innovator of "horizontal history," Genevieve Foster became frustrated when her two school-aged children complained about the boring presentation of history in their school texts. This frustration led to Foster's first book, George Washington's World (1941). In her unique approach, Foster weaves a story of the world around her central character; rather than focusing exclusively on geo-political events, as most textbooks do; she includes stories of scientific discovery and invention, music, literature, art, and religion. She has a keen intuition for stories that will especially delight and amuse her youthful audience. In Augustus Caesar's World, Foster traces the seven major civilizations Rome, Greece, Israel, Egypt, China, India, and Persia from 4500 B.C. to the time of Augustus Caesar in 44 B.C. and culminating in 14 A.D. Within this timeframe readers will learn not only the stories of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, and Marc Antony, but also the historian Livy and how Virgil came to write the Aeneid. Foster will then take her readers all over the world to learn what was happening at this same time in China, Persia, India and so on. Foster's detailed pen and ink drawings are fresh and appealing, and her illustrated timelines give a clear sense of chronology, enriching the engaging text. An all-time customer favorite!


We switched to Easy Grammar and we're all finding that painless and helpful. The program bases it all on the prepositional phrase as a framework of reference, and everything else is taught after that. We have only the student workbooks and so far I've found any extra info I need I can find on the Internet. So much is written about grammar that no teacher edition is needed, but of course it would help to have all parts. We've spent more this year on curriculum than any other year, due to my daughter's dyslexia and needing very specific things to address that (from the All About Learning Press company). That also led to me having less time to spend with the boys, and needing resources for them that required less teacher input. I had to make some switches along those lines. 

Kindergarten and Second Grade News

Mary, second grade, who has dyslexia, is excelling with All About Reading Level 2, and I continue to want to hug the creator of that program daily (Marie). Mary looked back to the first story in her book, started back in late September, and she couldn't believe how easy that first story was. She remembers it being a struggle for her back then; even she is amazed at her progress.

Beth is doing well with All About Reading Level 1 as well. 

Both girls are doing Sonlight Core B, with Mommy reading the read alouds, and Peter doing the science with them, and Paul doing the non-fiction history core (reading it aloud). It's a family effort. Beth (grade K) does not always have the attention span the material requires, but she's picking up some.

Writing is not going as planned. Write Shop Junior Level E takes more teacher time than I hoped, and I have to get it organized better so we're fitting it in consistently. Meanwhile, they're writing in their journals all the time, and being asked there to respond to literature. The Write Shop program is not the problem--it's me. They have the lessons well organized for you. Instead of trying to destress from having special needs children after everyone goes to bed at night, I need to carve out time to preplan our writing segments. It's a discipline on my part.

Christmas Picture Books to Share: And many more shared on this page on my blog

Christmas Soup by Alice Faye Duncan and Phyllis Dooley (Copyright 2005)

Synopsis: A zonderkidz book, not readily available. Look for it in the holiday section of your library. Very touching. Every year the Beene family dreams of a Christmas feast, but every year they get the same old watery soup. The true meaning of Christmas is revealed in this touching picture book with poignant illustrations by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. While Mama is making the traditional Christmas soup her children wish for more. When Baby Fannie prays 'Bless our home with something more'--- and that 'more' turns out to be two hungry strangers to feed, it seems as if things can't get much worse. But the soup---a true feast for the hungry pair---is shared, and the Beene children learn a lesson about giving they won't soon forget. This tender story is sure to become a Christmas classic!

Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble (copyright 1984 - new edition 2005)

Good Reads Reader Synopsis (first featured - Shanna Gonzalez): The Ansterbergs live in the end of their old barn which they share with their animals, and they look forward to the time when Papa will be able to build them a real house. Every Fall they harvest the apples from their old apple tree, and then the tree is free for the two girls to play. One makes a swing out of the vine which wraps around the trunk and branches; the other makes a drawing "studio" out of a broad limb. In the days filled with hard work and chores, the tree provides a great deal of joy to the children. But one night a blizzard destroys the tree, and for two weeks before Christmas the barn is filled with the sounds of Papa sawing the tree up into firewood. The girls are so distracted by grief that they are barely able to prepare their homemade Christmas gifts for the family. Even on Christmas Eve, he stays up late into the night, sawing. On Christmas morning Papa unveils their presents: a section of vine, nailed to the overhead beam, with homemade rag doll astride, and a drawing board affixed to the rescued "studio" limb, adorned with real paper and willow charcoal. The second child draws a picture to commemorate these events in 1881, and it stays on the family's wall for many years.

This book is exceptional in many ways: the drawings are skillfully evocative, and the text is just right in its level of descriptive detail and emotion. The story compellingly draws its audience in to share the girls' fear as they huddle under the table listening to ice strike their roof, watching Mama feed the fire that keeps the cold at bay. And listeners are disappointed along with the girls when their favorite place to play is destroyed. When the children's joy is restored due through the generous love of their parents, the effect is of a deeply joyful experience of a strong family which chooses to embrace love, hard work, and determination in the face of significant challenges. It's an outstanding addition to the Christmas basket.

My Notes: While this is out of print, your library may have it if it keeps a holiday section. It is worth looking for. A real classic! My girls and I all loved it and wanted more!

Gifts of the Heart by Patricia Polacco (Copyright 2013)

SynopsisBeloved author-illustrator Patricia Polacco’s holiday story is a wonderful ode to the magic of family, Christmas, and giving the right kind of gifts—gifts filled with love.
Richie and Trisha want to buy Christmas gifts for their family, but they don't have enough money. Enter Kay Lamity, a new housekeeper . . . but is that all she is? She comes into their lives like a whirlwind, brimming with positive energy and a can-do attitude. Kay not only straightens them out when it comes to whether or not Santa Claus is real, she teaches them something about gifts: the just-good-enough kind that come from the pocketbook and the unforgettable kind that come from the heart. Because of Kay, Trisha and Richie—and the family—have a Christmas morning they will never forget.

Celebrating the joy of homemade gifts, Patricia Polacco introduces readers to a new character who is truly a force of nature in this story reminiscent of Christmas Tapestry and An Orange for Frankie. This is a magical Christmas story the author swears is true, right down to the sleigh tracks on the farmhouse roof!

My Notes: I loved this heartwarming, well-told story, and although it tries to affirm a childhood belief in Santa (not the focal point, however), I didn't have a problem with that, even though we don't do Santa in our home. We want our children to believe in the power and omniscience of God, and assign such traits to no other entity. We tell them that Santa is from a pleasant story, derived from the kindness and goodness of a true St. Nicholas, but stolen by commercialism. Though we want them to know the truth, we don't ban Santa movies or stories. This book is worthy of your family time. We loved it!

Weekly Wrap-Up


Beth Bullington said...

I love your list of things the kids are thankful for. You do such a good job building a spirit of gratitude. Tell Mary that there was a time in my life when I didn't like my name -- it was just too plain. My legal name is just the short name. Now I like it, it is me. Your Christmas books make me want to learn to use the library here so we can get some.

Anonymous said...

I love how you say that stress is 'a cue that it's time to sit at the Lord's feet'. Very well put!