Week of 8/28/2011

Our week in review ….

As it would seem things are under way. We are not nearly as confused and unprepared as was first suspected.  Obviously, I neglected to order many books that were needed for supplemental reading.  Ah well, no one is perfect!

Our first experiment with the microscope was successful.  A last-minute rush to find slides at the local hobby shop and substituting food dye proved to be only minor hiccups.  I have managed to lose an entire box of supplies for the microscope!  Yet, I managed to find the entire set of supplies and specimens for dissections.  Do you think that these specimens are still viable after three years?  I wonder if I should peek.  If I did cut into this bag, which contains a fetal pig, I would need to refrigerate them beside my lettuce and tomatoes.  For some reason, I think that I will forgo this pleasure, and choose to be surprised at their condition, as well as the surely pungent smell, sometime in the future.

Just to add a bit of microscope information and a link – we use the National Optical, Model 138.  This is a full-sized compound microscope for biological studies.  I bought it used more than 10 years ago.  The Model 131, available at Home Science Tools, is very close to this one.  Do a search for “National Optical” on this site to view all of the models.  A note, I did purchase my dissection supplies from them as well.  Many of our science supplies, as a matter of fact, come from here too.

We are continuing through our subject, verb, and predicate studies.  We have diagrammed more complex sentences.  Grammar is not an obstacle anymore.  Last year, this was a painful experience.  Previous grammar did not exist beyond the occasional pointed comment similar to “this word describes a thing and is an adjective.”  Of course, I never even thought that I should have included Language Arts so heavily in our after-schooled studies.  As they say, hindsight is 20-20.  Three more lessons are in our past now.

Our first spelling test was a success. I am very pleased with how R&S Spelling works with the phonetics and structure of a word.  Spelling is complete in three days.  We write each word five times as well.  I must say that I attribute the final success in spelling to Megawords.  We used Book 1 at the end of the fourth grade.  The vocalization that was stressed so heavily and the syllabic approach to spelling the sounds is what has made this year more beneficial and successful overall.  Of course, we completed the next lesson in Wordly Wise too.

In writing, the development of style and omitting of what I call written pause and utterance (using “then”, “and”, “because” more often and without purpose) are the focus for improvement.  While the main point of the lesson was to describe a process, we had additional areas of work needed.  I would like to see a more conversational style.

I would like to share our paragraph:

When I feed my cat, I get the cat food from a bag that says Purina Cat Food. I take the plastic cup of cat food and plant it in the right side of the blue bowl on top of the freezer. After that, I pick the bowl up and take it to the sink. I put water in the left side of the blue bowl. Finally, I put down the cat bowl and yell, “Here Kitty, Kitty!” Fluffy comes running to me.

We are moving beyond simple sentence structure.  I expect to see more stylistic changes as we progress further into the parts of speech and the lessons contained in Sentence Composing for Elementary School (Killgallon).

We continued studying creation and evolution.  Further exploration into the purpose of history proved fruitful.  I continue to mention that we learn in life from the things that we have done.  It is just as beneficial to do the same from the things that others have done – simply on a larger, maybe even global, scale.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well this concept, with some life examples and discussion, was received.  We will be making a prehistory timeline, which oddly enough begins with creation!  Yes, feel free to laugh and enjoy this rather conflicting notion of the two being intertwined.  Mystery of History has proven that it surely would be enough as a stand alone.  However, we use additional resources to enjoy the topics of MOHStreams of Civilization did not prove to be too dry.  I was fearful based on current opinions and reviews, and I did not remember this from its first use.  I was happy to see that it was well received as a secondary resource.  Of course, we are continuing our reading with CHOW and SOTW (again!).  My student has almost completed the Boy of the Painted Cave, a literature selection.  This should be finished in the next few days.

We are doing division.  Yes, things are a bit out of order.  We are still having to do multiplication facts, but I am seeing great progress.  They are slowly beginning to become part of my student’s knowledge base.  I truly love the way that Math Mammoth has approached this current topic.  We have printed off many of the sections from grade four to precede our actual grade five concepts.  Division was not something that was taught, in my opinion, in the most concise manner in Saxon.  The second introduction has proven more fruitful, and progress is being made quickly.  We actually understand how division is the inverse operation for multiplication now.

All in all, after the chaotic beginnings to our new school year, things are beginning to become routine.

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