Thursday, June 14, 2012

Year Five - DONE!

Have we really been doing this for five years?  I guess we have.  And here's the proof.

 Homeschool lunch program, spring of 2008.

 Homeschool P.E. and... hmmm... crafts?  2007

I can hardly remember what we did, our first year of homeschooling.  It's all kind of fuzzy.  I know there was Story of the World, and Saxon math, and biology.  We had fun with logic puzzles, and ASL lessons, and we read The Chronicles of Narnia, among many other things.  We camped down at Mt. St. Helens and learned a lot about volcanoes and geology.  And Gunnar had speech therapy.  Yah.  And we were glad to finish.

The next year I was a bit more organized.  We pressed on with Saxon math and Story of the World, did a lot of science (the human body, geology, the oceans, weather, astronomy, geodes, spiders, etc.)  We kept up our ASL lessons, did art projects, read through the entire Bible in a year, memorized Psalm 19 and Philippians 1, and toured a dam, some locks, and a Nez Perce museum.  We wrapped up our year here.

By our third year we were really in a groove.  See what we did here.

Last year?  Yep, it's here.

And on to the present... 

* Annual Disclaimer:  For most of you, this post will definitely fit the category of over-sharing.  But this is record-keeping, for me.  If you're interested in the nitty-gritty details of What We Do in homeschool, here's your fix.  If not?  Nothing to see here.  Move along ;D *

Have you ever been going along about your business - well, homeschooling - and then discovered something you wish you'd known about years earlier?  Or is it just me?  Actually, it's probably happened a few times.  But hello, Apologia Science, where have you been all my life?

Do you know - maybe you do - how hard it is to find good quality creation-based science materials?  There are some great, great people out there in creation-science, but a lot of the materials either look very dated or very cartoon-ish.  Apologia is just what I wanted.  Top-quality, up to date, visually engaging, rigorous (good golly, Miss Molly, this is in depth!), as well as accurate scientifically while faithful to God's Word.  Whew.  What a relief!

However, when I looked at the content I realized we couldn't just jump in with both feet.  We needed to warm up a bit, because the transition from our previous science work-load was going to be big.  I decided to back Wyatt up a year, and have him go through this Grade 7 book over the summer.  We'd already done many of the experiments in the book over the last few years, so he was familiar with many of the concepts.  I just wanted him to read through it, take notes, and do the chapter summaries to get him up to speed.  You can guess how excited he was to have "summer school", but he soldiered through.

Tate and Gunnar and I took a run through Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day - aka Birds, Bats, and Bugs.  Summer was the perfect time to do this, as the yard and neighborhood were alive with all three categories ;D  We had a LOT of fun with this, and both boys completed the accompanying journal.

Which brings us to 2011-2012, a very different school year.  As the boys get older, we've done more things separately.  That can feel like more work for me, but they're also able to do more things independently, which is a mixed blessing.  I miss some of the fun we had, all together, those early years!  But growth is good :D

Wyatt - T
Rather than calling Wyatt a 9th grader, I'm calling this a transition year.  There are reasons for that I'll explain another time, but he hasn't failed or been held back.  He's learning and growing and maturing just fine.  I'll probably do the same thing with the other boys at this age.

We use a LOT of different materials for Language - Abeka Grammar, Wordly Wise, two different word root studies, Writing Strands, and Getty-Dubay handwriting.  And, NO, we don't do everything in every book!

Wyatt completed Apologia's Grade 8 course in Physical Science.  We (by the skin of my teeth) got through all but the last chapter of Jacob's Elementary Algebra, and we tried something new.

We had just finished a four year overview of world history - Susan Bauer's Story of the World.  I'm so glad we did it.  I know I learned a TON.  Coming though public school, my understanding of history reflected the way we studied it - disjointed and random.  Walking through it chronologically made so much sense!  For the first time, I saw how things fit together - how events from the distant past influenced the not-so-distant past, and the present.  Amazing.

However, being an overview of world history, it's a bit weak on American history, and I wanted to fill those gaps.  Also, with the boys getting more diversified in their subjects, I wanted something for Wyatt that wouldn't require a lot of planning on my part.  Sonlight's American History (Core 100) fit the bill, exactly.

It was a LOT of reading for Wyatt.  (That's not even all the books.)  But he made it.  He probably learned way more than he realizes!  But it took a lot of time for him to get through all those books.  Some he loved (A Year Down Yonder) and some he barely endured.  But he DID IT.  And knowing how much Tate and Gunnar love to read, I think they're going to enjoy it even more than he did, when they use this curriculum.

Tate - 7th
Tate has shown a lot of growth this year - physically, academically, and in general ways.  He's quite the young man.

Tate is an excellent reader and his vocabulary and expression are wonderful.  He struggles a bit with written language.  Hard to say how much of it is due to rushing (can't get all those amazing thoughts onto paper quickly enough) and how much he really is missing.  If he were in public school the most likely approach would be to spend a lot of time on his areas of weakness - lots of drilling, lots of remedial work, etc.  My m.o. is different.  I know his brain is buzzing with intelligent thoughts.  I know he understands the concepts, be it science, math, history, whatever.  And I don't want to take a lot of time away from what he's good at and spend it all on what frustrates him the most.  On the other hand, we don't throw up our arms and give up, either.  He's worked faithfully (and done well) through Abeka's grammar and Wordly Wise, studied Greek and Latin word roots, and improved his handwriting.

Though I love Apologia, there's quite a jump from the elementary books to the Grade 7/8 books, so - in the interim - I had Tate working through some of our Wonders of Creation books.  I let him choose three out of the five in the series that we have, and he picked Geology, Fossils, and Weather.  He's also worked through his last Saxon book - Algebra 1/2.

Tate and Gunnar
As they get older, there's less and less they do together, but for this year...

I'm loving the Sequential Spelling books.  The catch is, there are 180 lessons (to fit a public school year) and we don't do 180 days of school.  So this year we finished Book 1 and are well into Book 2, but will have to finish that next year.  Whatever.  This is a very non-traditional spelling book - every day is a test.  It has been immensely helpful for Gunnar, and I've seen Tate making big strides in his spelling, too.  Woo-hoo!

After four years of world history I thought they needed more US History too, but weren't ready for Sonlight 100, so we really took it easy this year.  Frankly, they already have WAY more history under their belts than any public school student their ages.  I don't know if they do ANY history at the elementary level any more - it's all "Social Studies".  At any rate, I felt we could easily slow down and play more this year, so we did!  I chose these three History Pockets books to give us a framework, and we did LOTS of projects from these.  I also chose a read-aloud a week (well, almost) to go along with these.

While we studied explorers, we read: Pedro's Journal, Martin Luther (not an explorer, but of that era), Walk the World's Rim, The Broken Blade, Wintering, Madeleine Takes Command, Squalls Before War, and Streams to the River, River to the Sea.

With Colonial America, we read: Almost Home, The Magic Tunnel, Captured, The Courage of Sarah Noble, The Matchlock Gun, Sign of the Beaver, Sarah Bishop, Ben and Me, Why Not Lafayette? and Calico Bush.

And with Moving West, we read: Daily Life in a Covered Wagon, The Great Turkey Walk, The Cabin Faced West, Soft Rain, Moccasin Trail, They're Off! The Story of the Pony Express, By the Great Horn Spoon, Little Britches, Freedom Train, Two Tickets to Ride, Grandma's Attic, Ida Early Comes Over the Mountain, and Christmas With Ida Early.

And we added in Code Talker, and In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson.

Gunnar 4th
Gunnar is doing great!  Since he's been homeschooled all along, I see the biggest changes in him.  He's great with spelling, finished half the Nonfiction (analysis) book (Tate did the other half previously), and has worked all through Daily Grams on his own.

Gunnar is kind of off-cycle with math.  I never bothered with Kindy math, but just played around a bit and then started him with first grade math after Christmas (of his K year).  So this year, he completed his fourth grade math and is about halfway through his fifth grade math.  Yay, Gunnar!  Also, he has LOVED working through Apologia's Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day.  Fun for both of us :D

This year also saw Wyatt and Tate join Civil Air Patrol, which has been a great avenue for learning, flying, community service, discipline, and FUN.  Gunnar looks forward to joining when he turns 12 next year.

 Wyatt joined me in singing with the community choir - music!

But I think the absolute highlight of this school year was our vacation last fall.

Three weeks.  Ten states.  Five thousand miles.

We didn't do a lick of school work, but I bet the boys learned more in those twenty-two days than we could ever measure.  Memories for a lifetime :D

So three cheers for 2011-2012!


Lisa @stretchmarkmama said...

Loved the detail! Read every word!

dlefler said...

I LOVE your detail. I also think I might want to get Story of the World - even if I never end up homeschooling, I do a lot of supplemental things with the boys. So far, they haven't done any history in school, but Matt's only in Kindergarten so that isn't a good measure! I do think it is more "social studies" than history, though - they study other countries and cultures, but not the HISTORY of those countries and cultures.

Oh, I love the books. I devoured Sign of the Beaver, Island of the Blue Dolphins, My Side of the Mountain, Hatchet, and Julie of the Wolves. Honestly, I should probably have become a librarian! LOL

Choate Family said...

I love the detail, too. It's nice to see that I'm not the only nerdy, I mean excited, home school mama out there :-)

Felicity said...

You keep wonderful records, Julie. I wish I'd done more of that.
I also miss the good times we had together when my children were all smaller - we used KONOS and it's quite amazing what they actually remember from those years. They enjoyed all the experiments the most!
I use Getty & Dubay handwriting too as I thought it looked so nice, and would you believe it, my kids say they think the way we were taught cursive (with all the loops) is much nicer... sigh... sometimes I just can't win!
Well done on completing another year!!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Glad there are a few folks that find this interesting. I know I'm often curious what others do.

But really, this is good record-keeping for me :D


Manic Mom said...

I'm new to your blog, love it! We seem to use a lot of the same books. We will start apologia this year, we are excited to have found it as well.

Liz said...


I admire you! You not only homeschool but you do it well. I wish I could do it but I would be doing a disservice to my children. I will vicariously live through you instead.

Warm Regards,


Ann said...

Obviously I'm way behind on blog reading. But, I love, love, love this post! I guess that just gives evidence to the homeschool nerd in me.