January 14, 2009

Jumping Back In

We are back into the swing of school. History seems to be the current favorite subject around here, Ciaran and Sirah have been into reenacting the battles of Story of the World as we read them. Maria just asked for a biography on Abe Lincoln for her pleasure reading????? We learned about purple dye from snails and now the kids want to make dye and dye things, we won't use snails don't worry. Tomorrow we are building a tower siege out of Legos and maybe making some fake stained glass. History is always good to bring their interest back into school and get over the drudgery of fractions and division and the general unhappiness that comes with a return to writing instruments. Sirah does not enjoy her crafting time being interrupted and Maria has been so used to all her free time reading that I am finding using those habits to ease back into school has been useful.

We have been rounding things out with field trips and activities. The Physics Circus was also a big hit this week as they learned about and watched all the fun things Physics can do. This was my fourth year in a row but the kids still seem to enjoy it and this was the first year that Sirah seemed interested and to really get a lot out of it. We are doing an Art Adventure program through the Minneapolis Institute of Art that is very interesting and the kids seem to get a lot out of this program each year.

Unfortunately winter sports are on hold after a burst of activity between Christmas and New Years ended with a broken arm for Maria while she was ice skating. Sirah was very excited to learn how to ice skate for the first time and Ciaran and Serona hit the slopes and took snowboarding lessons. The broken arm has limited ice skating, skiing, sledding and even swimming (indoors) opportunities for a few weeks. Maria had just joined an area swim team and is sad for the hiatus but we will resume once she has the all clear from the doctors. In the interim the bright blue cast and her new doll (Chrissa a MN swimmer) from her grandparents will have to assuage her. Besides who really wants to be outside in negative 18 degree weather?

We are finishing up our Astronomy unit study from the fall and the kids are getting their final presentations ready. This year I had them each do a slideshow presentation on all they learned about Astronomy incorporating pictures, writing notes, videos and anything else they wanted. We used Google Docs to pull it all together and they will present it as their final project. Then we begin our studies in Geology which will probably focus on gems and other pretty rocks if I was to guess, though they may want to explore caves some more too. Another big slide show project, a rock collection and some video documentaries will be on tap for next semester.

Soon we will pick our next Arboretum project too I am thinking this year we will study the life cycle of an apple tree. We visit the arboretum and record our visits and the plants progress with video, camera, sound recordings, sketches and notes and put it together at the end of the year to show the plants life cycle over the course of a year. Since I have nothing near a green thumb I figure we might as well put our membership to good use and rely on the experts to do all the hard work.

Maria is working on some secret writing project she will not let anyone see. She is writing a book complete with illustrations she is sketching, she works on it for a half hour every day and I still have no idea what it is about or when it will be done. I am not going to mess with a good thing, I figure it worked for Christopher Paolini and Nancy Yi Fan and it is a great project and all her idea, who is going to say no to that?

Sirah is learning to read and I am very happy with her progress though she is not. She wants to be able to read "real books" as she tells me. She is working through her Primary Phonics and Bob books at a good rate and has graduated to reading the words in her head before saying them out loud. She reads us a page of a Fancy Nancy reader every night before bed because she wants to read a real book. She is part of a book club (I am reading the books to her) and is the youngest but seems to enjoy being with them and the books we are reading. She can be found crafting hands in paint, glue, scissors, anything she can get her hands on for any possible free moment she has. Thankfully we have a craft table and carpet I could care less about underneath.

Ciaran is working steady on reading, he is still in search of books he will actually enjoy reading as he tells me he still hates reading, even though he knows it will not get him out of it. He devoured the Star Wars Boba Fett series and has been searching for something captivating since. Recently he started reading the Great Illustrated Classic series and he read two this week so I am hopeful! He still wishes playing Wii or Snowboarding was a school subject. His favorite subject is science with math in a close second, anything that requires writing comes in at the bottom, even below reading. Still I woke up this morning to him making me coffee and oatmeal, he even used the coffee pot, he is growing up so fast and is such a sweet boy!

Those are the highlights of the past few weeks as we reenter our homeschooling world after a nice long vacation, complete with Serona home for 2 weeks, wonderful! January is always a very full school month for us as it is just too cold to want to be outside. Think I am a whiner, come live in -18 weather BEFORE the windchill and see how quickly you decide sitting inside with some hot chocolate and a copy of The Great Brain (our current family read aloud) or even a 2 and a half hour game of Monopoly (how we started our day today) are better options!


  1. Writing has long been my son's least favorite subject, even though he's good at it.

    Lately, though, he's not having any trouble getting his writing done, and done well. We got a Wii for Christmas, and I told him that he could have an extra hour with Star Wars Lego if he gets his writing assignments done on time and with no whining.

  2. Welcome back! I've missed your posts. Tell Maria not to miss swimming too much. Bubba has been complaining about how much colder it is after getting out of the pool. Even the showers are colder. And going outside to the car afterward - ugggh!