Wednesday, December 21, 2011

homeschool daybook: Sonnets! Snowflakes! Sock Buns!

Phew-EEE!  We made it through a semester of school here in Texas.  Alex had his final final this morning.  Kendra completed her first month homeschooling, Natalie her second.  I think we're all very grateful for some days off.  Also, grateful for a challenging semester.

Here's a random wrap-up of the past few weeks:

The girls kept up a weekly schedule of "Mary Poppins" days with little friends, giving busy mamas a much-needed break for the afternoon (not to mention, this mama!)  It's been delightful hearing their stories, watching them prepare activities.  It also gives me a decent excuse to once again browse the children's section of the library.   

This past week, we had a snowflake-making skype date with my adorable, industrious nephew.    Earlier in the week he'd produced, filmed and starred in his very own tutorial video for his mama to post on facebook.  I figured he'd be more than eager to teach his cousins.  True delights.... 

We realized we were hitting a wall last week.  Probably due to Christmas and vacation in the air.  I confess I lost my temper a few times that particular week.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that before we began schooling at home, I assumed every week would be like that so a bad week every couple of months isn't so bad.

 To beat the stir-crazies, we packed up our stuff and spent the morning at Strange Brew.  Free wi-fi, lots of comfortable seating, good coffee and tea.  We were all set.  Natalie and I spent a good chunk of time ironing out some wrinkles in her understanding of sentence diagramming.  Call me a geek, but I LOVE sentence diagramming.  I'd forgotten how much.  Natalie?  Not so much.  

I'd like to take a moment to share with you some excerpts from the grammar test I had Kendra create for Natalie.  Kendra isn't taking any formal grammar lessons (she wasn't in public school, either)  so I've been having her keep her skills fresh by editing some of Natalie's work, buffing up on Strunk & White, and writing grammar tests.  

Please enjoy with me a sampling of Kendra's handiwork:

2.  Match each word to its example:

Declarative                          "Feed the hog."
Interrogative                        "My butt is big."
Imperative                           "Aw sh@%$#!!!"
Exclamatory                        "Is it hot in here or is it just you?"

hoo-boy, there's more....

9.  Identify the subject of the following sentence:
     Wow, Kendra is really hot.

Natalie wasn't outdone.  How about this gem?

24.  Change the following italicized adjectives into adjective phrases:
       Awesome people like Kendra deserve a trophy.

Natalie's answer?
        People like Kendra that are mentally unstable deserve a trophy.

Unfortunately for Natalie, Kendra not only wrote the test; she graded it too.

While we're on the subject of my daughters who make me laugh in spite of myself.

Overheard when they were taking turns reciting the Sermon on the Mount to each other.

"Let's drink a shot every time we get a verse right!"  (Henceforth, referring to this exercise as the Sermon on the Mount drinking game.  Don't worry, Mom, it was iced tea.)

During the same activity...

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the punctual...."

As you can see, we've got lots of work to do still.

We did accomplish some academic-type work since Thanksgiving:

  • History:  Natalie finished her study on the Civil War with an arduous reading of Churchill's The Great Democracies (from History of the English Speaking People, vol. IV); Kendra studied the medieval era.  Brian assigned her a formal paper on the subject of the Church in the Middle Ages.  She spent a week writing and another week revising based on his critique.  
  • Literature:  Both girls read from History of English Literature on "How the Sonnet Came to England" and "The Beginning of Free Verse".  I had them read a variety of sonnets from Emily Dickinson and William Wordsworth.  This one by Malcolm Guite was their favorite.
  •  We had a complete spending an afternoon reading Jabberwocky and then writing our   own bric-a-brac word poems, via The Roar On the Other Side.  I'd post them here, but you kinda had to be there....
  • Language Arts:  See notes on the Grammar review test and sentence diagramming above.  Also, Kendra kept her vocabulary and spelling skills fresh using these online quizzes:  spelling, vocabulary
  • Math:  Both girls are trucking along with the textbooks they began in September.  Natalie has almost completed her first logic workbook and discovered it's one of her favorite activities.  Who knew?  We'll be starting another logic workbook after Christmas.  Hopefully, her enthusiasm will continue.  Kendra supplements her geometry work with lessons at Khan Academy.
  • Science:  The girls spent the last two weeks reading from a variety of sources on the subject of world origins.  We'll pick this up after Christmas with some resources I've been collecting.  
  • Nature Study:  Slowly but surely -- sadly, reluctantly --  we're building nature journals.  I'm going to win them over on this discipline yet!
  • Music:  Kendra's completed her month-long study on the work and life of Chopin; Natalie on Tchaikovsky.  I'd wanted to find affordable tickets to take the girls to one of Austin's productions of The Nutcracker, but just couldn't swing it this year.  We did enjoy listening to both composers on CDs we loaned from the library.   Between that and good ol' YouTube, hopefully the girls got a little taste of this masterful work.
  • Art:  Kendra continued studying Renaissance artists:  Masaccio, Paolo Uccello, Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi.  She did a picture study of our Advent image, Fra Angelico's Annunciation.

  • Natalie continued her Renoir study; this past week she did a picture study of The Swing.  She also had another chance to sketch and enjoyed it a ton.  It makes me happy to see her willing to try her hand at an activityI gave up on in like the fourth grade.  
Of course, these are just highlights.  There's lots of reading, writing, talking and daydreaming you can fill in between the lines.  

For fun (under the heading Life Skills to sound more official), I had the girls watch this video:  How to Curl Your Hair With A Sock!  Natalie fell in love with the idea right away and has had instant success.  See for yourself....



When I was taking these pictures, I had a strange sensation of deja vu.  Then I remembered where I'd seen that hair and that pose before...

Can you even believe how this whole parenting thing works?!?  It's crazy, I tell ya.

If you're one of the faithful friends reading our homeschooling journey these past two months, thank you.  We promise to get back at it next year!
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