Tuesday, September 13, 2005

the best laid plans

As we enter into our third week I have to keep reminding myself that homeschooling can be adaptable to anything including medical crisis in a family. Last week as we were going merrily on our way in the second week of school, my oldest daughter ended up having a gallstone attack. Thus a day spent in the ER meant a lost day of organized studies. Sooo we did what most others do. We dropped some things, put off a few others and combined some with another day. Hey we are flexible right? Or so I keep trying to remind myself this week as I am up at 1:30 am getting my oldest son from his job. He is on night shift for the next three weeks and still not allowed to drive yet because of medical reasons. Tomorrow is doctor appt for my daughter and later surgeon appt and surgery hopefully sooner than her next attack. Oldest son needs blood work done this week also and in the next month we have sleep deprivation EEG, MRI and neurologist appt for him. Josh and I study in between all this. Thank goodness Josh is such a trooper through all this. He just wants to make sure to get a few birding trips in there when possible and is so looking forward to our local audubon group starting up their field trips again.

So study wise we have been:

- studying Einstein and the field of physics,
- reading The Numer Devil A Mathematical Adventure (which Josh is LOVING),
- reading Alice in Wonderland in connection with The Number Devil,
- reading bios - watching videos - and listening to symphonies of Beethoven,
- reading bios on Michelangelo and studying The Pieta,
- memorizing the poem we each chose of our poet Robert Frost as well as reading his bio -------- reading Nesbit's translation of Shakespeare's play Macbeth in preparation for attending his sister's high school's performance of said play,
- going on nature walks (which usually turn into birding lol) and making entries in our journals, - - reading My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George for our nature study literature
- doing spelling taking words from his writing which has included 2 Friday Freewrites and a descriptive paragraph of a nature walk
- Josh's own independent reading - right now he is re-reading Ken Kaufman's, Kingbird Highway for the second time. (this is a wonderful adult book about birding) as well as his usual studying of his bird guides of which he now has 3 I think

We try to stick to our days but as the title of this post suggests sometimes these have to be changed or combined. OK with us because as I look back over this list of just some of the things we have been doing it becomes apparent that we are learning even when the best laid plans.....

Monday, September 05, 2005

our first week

Amongst the heartbreak of so many lives due to Hurricane Katrina, Josh and I had the responsibility to carry on with our own work which was our first week of school. Wishing we could do more than pray and send money, we decided that to go about our studies (often with thoughts and prayers for all affected) was what was required of us. As Helen Keller said:

I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker. ~Helen Keller

With all this in mind a new year of concentrated studies then began for us. What follows is just a glimpse of that beginning:

We have named our days. What I mean really is that we have decided to concentrate on one field of study each day (with Language Arts and Math studies done daily) and so we have -

Monday Movie Madness
(this is based on Julie Bogart's movie day from Bravewriter's Lifestyle)
Tuesday Teatime
- Poetry
- Composer
- Library visit
Wild, Wild History Wednesday
- American & World History
Thouroughly Scientific Thursday
- Science
- National Geographic Day (from Cay Gibson's Literature Alive yahoo group) -
we will be visiting B&N bookstore for coffee and reading articles from our magazine
Fine Arts Friday
- Shakespeare, Plutarch, and Artist per Ambleside Online
- Friday Freewrite (again from Julie Bogart's Bravewriter Lifestyle)
- weekly birding with our favorite birder/guide

Daily I will also be including things to post on our Happy Birthday wall which will include people, places and events etc. For example this week we honoured the birthdays of Jacques Louis David, French painter who we have studied in this past and Mary Wollenstonecraft Shelley, British novelist and writer of Frankenstein. Many of my ideas for here come from the Enchanted Learning website (which is fantastic) as well as various other resources. I will try to post a picture at the end of each month of our wall.

I have found some fantastic "living" books to use for both Math and Science at the library and we are so enjoying them I may need to purchase our own copies. For Math we are using three books: one a fictional novel called The Number Devil - A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger and the other three are non-fiction books. The first non-fiction is a picture book called G is for Googol - A Mathematical Alphabet Book by David M. Schwartz. This has an entry for each letter of the alphabet focusing on math terms, definitions etc. It is very funny and highly informative at the same time and we are really enjoying it. The other book is Life By the Numbers by Keith Devlin. This is a companion book to the PBS series by the same name. I have not seen the series on tv but we are enjoying the book tremendously. It is a very easy to read book on how math applies to many aspects of our lives. I knew I was going to enjoy it when in the very beginning I read:

"The rules and the procedures learned in school are merely the tools you need to do "real" mathematics. Mathematics - real mathematics - is about trying to understand ourselves and the world we live in."

Since Joshua has become "math phobic/resisting" lately I felt it was important to drop the "tools" for just a bit and expose him to this side of the study of mathematics.

The Science "living" book is a companion to the math one by Schwartz titled Q is for Quark - A Science Alphabet Book. Many aspects of science are explored using the alphabet. Lots of fun! We are using this as a starting point to some of our science topics.

Here's an example of how we used "living" books this week in Math:

We read Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. These are fantastic books (they have a science one too). Very funny and informative! One of the characters was Mrs Fibonacci. After reading this book, we looked up fibonnaci in the G is for Googol book and found an entry for them that explained what they were, how they were named etc. Josh made an entry in his math notebook on what he learned about them as well as trying to answer orally the problems presented in the storyline of the Math Curse book with much laughing and giggling.

Another day we read from the Life by the Numbers book and learned about mathmetician/scientist James Murray who after reading his daughter Rudyard Kiplings, Just So Stories "How the Leopard Got his Spots" embarked on a 20 year journey to answer that question culminating in his own book giving the scientific version of Kipling's story. We grabbed our own copy then of Just So Stories and read Kipling's version. Later that night we searched the internet for information on James Murray. We found an article mentioning Murray and explaining the scientific reasoning behind "how leopards gets their spots". We even got Dad involved in all this lol.

We'll try and be flexible because as they say "life happens" but it feels good to be "back in the groove again".