Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekly Homeschool Wrap Up: My First Ever!

I haven't written any blogs about homeschooling recently...mostly because we haven’t actually started full school yet.  I know, appalling, right?  But that is the beauty of homeschooling...the flexibility!
Now if you are new to my blog, don’t get concerned...I’m not a lazy homeschooling mom, unable to get into the swing of the new year!  Our family moved to Puerto Rico one month ago, and have been getting settled into the area in order to begin ministry to high-risk youth and young adults in the area.  We’ve found a permanent house to move into and will be moving into said house on October 1st...yay!  We’ve had a wonderful temporary furnished rental to stay in for the meantime.  But during all this time, all of our belongings, including the majority of our homeschool materials and curriculum, have remained in the moving pods we moved our belongings in.  We have the pods delivered to the new place on Sept. 30th, we unpack and move in on Oct. 1st and we will be starting OFFICIAL school on Oct. 3rd!  Only a month behind schedule...we’ll catch up!
But, like most homeschooling mamas out there, I couldn’t travel with my kids and not have some sort of educational materials with us!  The kids have been working through some grade level ‘challenge’ sort of workbooks since we left the ‘mainland’ in early August.  However in the last couple weeks I really needed to put together some sort of homeschool structure...especially since our main tasks of finding a car to buy and a house to rent had been accomplished.  

After consulting with my husband, we determined some skill areas that the kids are weak in and designed, in conjunction with their ‘challenge’ workbook, a homeschool structure designed to get them in the routine of school and help them work on some areas where they are still struggling to catch up to grade level in.
So with that in mind, here’s a walk through the various subjects we covered in our week this week!
Morning Board:

This "Morning Board" we go over all together every morning.  It is intended mainly as a tool for Sassafrass to learn how calendars work, ordinal numbers, counting, etc., but we all have a lot of fun with it.  Plus we've added in a little extra Spanish review work as part of the "Morning Board".  We are really liking this new routine and start to our day.  If you are interested in doing something similar, I found most of my printables through Mama Jenn and Homeschool Creations.

Thought I'd give ya a close up of the weather for the week.  Sunny, sunny, sunny - like usual!!

Both big kids fully grasp the concept of multiplication, but because they’ve been doing so much ‘catching up’ in that department, they haven’t had enough focus on getting their multiplication tables memorized.  So when they are asked a simple math problem, like 8 x 7, they have to take several minutes to figure out the answer.  Because we’ve been focusing on catching the kids up on concepts, we have focused less on rote memorization and more on making sure that they understood the concepts.  However, knowing ones times tables is an important and beneficial skill.  So Daddy gave them a challenge to memorize all their times tables 0-12.  

In addition to a few math concept pages in their workbooks, the two older ones worked hard on flashcards and some fun times table games I found HERE.  For the soon-to-be 1st grader, she was to be tested on her alphabet letters and numbers 1-30.  She already had her capital letters down pretty good, but was still getting confused on some lowercase letters.  Numbers she knew verbally through 20, but by recognition only through 10.  We found some fun printables to challenge her in these areas HERE.

I’m putting together a year long ‘elective’ study of the history, people and culture of Puerto Rico.  I call it elective b/c it will be over and above the history program that comes with our curriculum.  But it is not truly elective b/c my children have no choice in whether or not they attend the class/do the work!  ;)  It has been fun to begin to learn more about the country of Puerto Rico and the history - some of which is a painful history replete with situations where the national people of Puerto Rico have been victimized by other nations many times over.  But it is also a history rich with storytellers, art, music and culture.  So far we are using these two books:

One is actually a coloring book, but it has a lot of child friendly pictures and information based on the culture and history of Puerto Rico.  The other is a Spanish textbook about the history of Puerto Rico.  I’m reading it in advance, both to learn and to challenge my Spanish reading and comprehension, but also to learn about the history and culture of PR.  I then re-tell the history to the kids.  This week in particular we learned about the capital of Puerto Rico - San Juan.  Did you know that when Christopher Columbus discovered and subsequently named the island, he originally name the capital city ‘Puerto Rico’ and named the island ‘San Juan’?  But somehow the message was later reversed and that is how the island was named Puerto Rico instead.  The Taino (the original island inhabitants prior to the discovery of PR by the Europeans) name for the island was Boriken and Puerto Ricans often today will still refer to themselves are Boricuas - paying homage to their ancestral roots!

Okay, we aren’t doing any formal science right now, but since we are staying right across the street from the Atlantic Ocean, there is some informal science happening every day!  For example, nearly daily the kids will find and capture hermit crabs and create a habitat for them.  This has spurred discussions on habitat and questions from the kids on things like “What do hermit crabs eat?” and “Do hermit crabs poop?” (that came from the boy...) and random questions like “Is a platypus poisonous?” (still have to Google that one...).  We also love exploring the exposed reef along the shore, looking for crabs, and discussing the various forms of sea plants we see there - we are especially intrigued by the black sea urchins with the red center!


With the move to Puerto Rico, we’ve had to step up our Spanish language acquisition.  We’ve been doing Rosetta Stone Spanish for the past year back in MN and though our two oldest are fluent in Spanish, they are a bit rusty in speaking.  Plus Robert, Sassafrass and I are still learning more every day.  However our Rosetta Stone is packed (we get our pods delivered next week - hooray!!), so our Spanish language work has been more informal.  I try to keep to the premise of only speaking Spanish amongst ourselves when we are out and about in the community.  Sometimes we’ll launch into informal conversations in Spanish around the house and my favorite game is to say things in Spanish and have the older two kids translate for little Sassafrass.  

Language Arts:
Language Arts is the area where my kids are probably all areas of L.A.  So we’ve focused most of our homeschool time on work on subjects such as grammar, spelling, writing and reading.  Their workbooks are heavily loaded with these topics, which is why I chose those particular workbooks.  However we’ve also used flashcards (homophones/synonyms/antonyms for the older two;  sight words for Sassafrass) and brought back our weekly spelling test.  Sassafrass had her first ever spelling test and she did great - 100% A+ with a sticker!


'Nuff said.  :)

Socialization:  (hahahahaha!)

My Homeschool "Room"...: actually a 'homeschool cooler with a buncha stuff piled on it'...
T-minus 5 days til our move!  I won't get a homeschool room then, 
but I will get much better organization!

This next week we are moving out of the temporary rental home into our more permanent rental home.  We are excited to have our pods delivered, have more clothes to wear than the few pairs we’ve been wearing over and over again for the past 3 months, and have all of our homeschool materials and books!

Linking up for the first time ever to the Weekly Wrap Up that Kris hosts every Friday over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.  

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