Homeschool, The Home Stretch

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I know I haven’t written much lately.  The Hippie Household has been seized with a very serious case of spring fever.  It’s not unusual in this area.  In Michigan you go out into the warmth of the sunshine at every opportunity, as the opportunities can be few and far between some years.

We’ve spent a lot of time wrestling areas like this:

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Into something that looks like this:

This is a different corner of the house, but you get the idea.  Now, hopefully, the stuff we planted will grow and we won't just have a dirt patch!

This is a different corner of the house, but you get the idea. Now, hopefully, the stuff we planted will grow and we won’t just have a dirt patch!

Ivy is lovely but, good grief, the stuff gives a whole new meaning to “invasive!”

I truly believe that working in the garden is a great lesson all by itself:

image from etsy.com

image from etsy.com

But we have done some other school work as well.

Lest I be accused of “fakebooking” let me say it has not all been sunshine and roses.  There were days when I thought we must be out of our minds to have taken on the task of homeschooling our child.  It is some times difficult.  Some days we struggle from sun-up to bedtime to get anything done.  Overall, though, it has been a great decision for our family.

Here’s the low-down on what we’ve been doing lately.

Last week we studied the reactions that occur when a base meets an acid.  One very cool experiment was soaking a raw egg (egg shells are primarily calcium – a base) in vinegar, which is an acid.  In a day or two the shell will have “fizzed” completely away, leaving only the tough membrane beneath.

That led to “what will happen if we put the egg in water?”

Osmosis happens! Water passes through the membrane and causes the egg to grow.

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Our experiment egg was the same size as the purple Easter egg when we started.

Music lessons continue for a few more weeks and then there is a break until summer band camp starts.  Sweet Hippie Daughter LOVES to play music.  She will sit at the piano for hours, working out how to play a song and has taught herself more than I ever realized an 8-year-old could.  She has a natural talent.  However, with natural talent (and being 8) comes a great deal of frustration.  She wants to play ALL of the instruments and she wants to be a master of everything but she gets SO ANGRY with herself if she can’t play perfectly right away.

Lessons and being in a band have taught her a lot about the value of practice and patience and endurance.  She is learning that, even if you already know the scale, playing it again and again makes you better able to play Pachelbel’s Cannon in D.  Next year she thinks she’d like to continue into the advanced class with her trombone and also start over with the beginners on French horn.  We’ll see what happens.

I admit it.  I have fully climbed on the “you can’t have too much music in school” bandwagon.  “Bandwagon.”  “Music.”  hahaha  GE DIGITAL CAMERAWe struggled through the multiplication tables ALL. YEAR. LONG.

It was awful.  She would cry. I would yell.  It was the worst part of our homeschool experience.

FINALLY, she mastered them…. or… well…  maybe MASTERED is a stretch.  But she can multiply with consistent accuracy.

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Once we got past that I, with great dread, moved on to long-form multiplication and division.

As it turns out, a kid that knows their times tables can breeze right through that other stuff.  Huh.  I guess there’s a method to the madness after all!

One thing I was told about homeschooling before I ever started was that you have to be flexible and willing to adapt and seek out what works best for your situation.

We started the year with Saxon Math.  It REALLY wasn’t working for us.  So we ditched it and went with these two workbooks I picked up for about $10.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAFor whatever reason these books just “clicked” better with my girl.  She understood the instructions better and resisted the work less.  Then, around February or March, we added a membership to Scholastic’s Mathblaster.com and she made great leaps and bounds.  Math Blaster is a very well-done 1st person space alien video game.  She can interact with other children and do several fun activities like raising alien pets and competing in pod races.  However, if she wants to advance, she has to do ever-more-difficult math.  All of a sudden she WANTED to know how to solve the equations.  Thank you, Scholastic!

***A little side note:

math blasterWe discovered two separate book series’ that were both really great.  We didn’t get all the way through either series, so I plan on using them again next year.

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These books are challenging enough to push SHD as a reader and fun enough to hold her interest.  The “ValueTales” she can usually finish in one sitting.  The others are chapter books and usually take her 3-4 days.  They are a great tool for teaching history, character traits, civic responsibility  reading, writing, illustrating and more.  We have used them as a “launch” for lessons on local history (Henry Ford), politics (Abraham Lincoln), science (Louis Pasteur) and more.

Now we are heading into our last few weeks of 3rd grade which will be, for the most part, one giant review project.  SHD is going to make a portfolio of what she learned this year, including some of her favorite lessons, most memorable moments and things she had to work the hardest to finish.  I am helping her sort through the year’s records and setting some parameters but she will make the final decisions as to what should be included and how to best present it.

I can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

Then we are on to summer.  Hooray for the big kids coming back, days in the swimming pool, festivals, gardens, and sunshine!

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7 responses »

  1. I can relate to a lot of this. Particularly the spring fever (I may have it worse than they do.), the ivy overtaking stuff, the crying and yelling our way through math, and well, more. You get the idea. It’s nice to have a virtual partner out there. Almost done!!!

  2. Spring fever hit over on this side of the state too. The grandkids don’t want to do any school work and mud playing is high on the list over here. ball practice and birthdays are the only thing keeping us all sane.

  3. It sounds so easy when told by someone else in a couple of neat paragraphs. I have to keep reminding myself that it is much more challenging in reality. We will be doing some homeschooling this summer to get our daughter caught up for 4th grade.

  4. On Multiplication=Maybe you have seen it. I think the source was Dr. Moore’s site long ago. But there are little tricks like 9X_ always yields a 9 when you add the two factors of the product. And the first factor of the product is always 1 less than the number by which you multiply the 9.

    e.g. 9X6=54 5+4=9 etc.

    Here is an easy way to teach young children the Ten Commandments. Hope others will pass it around. http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/teaching-children-the-ten-commandments/

    Blessings on your full hands! I am an organic farmer and it rained or I would be in the field now.

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