Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sonlight's Summer Readers

We had a "mini box day" this week when Rose received a box of books for summer reading. I have been looking forward to trying out one of Sonlight's summer reader packages. My boys don't really like to read fiction, and Grace is so very picky about what she will read...pretty much it has to be in the fantasy or dystopian genre before she will even look at it...but Rose likes a wide variety of books, so I knew the summer readers would be right up her alley. She was so excited to get her little box, and even more excited that the books came with a free bookmark! She was a little concerened that she was supposed to read these all to herself, but I explained that we would do them as read-alouds over the summer.

This year's elementary pack for girls includes....Elevator Family, The Year of the Baby, Still More Stories from Grandma's Attic, Third Grade Detectives: Mystery of the Hairy Tomatoes, and Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew: Pony Problems. We also got to choose a free bonus book, and she chose A Tale of Gold.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ninth Grade Astronomy Plan

Grace is going to be studying astronomy for her ninth grade year. I feel kind of relieved about that, because she has been studying biology this year and it is a tough subject! Not that astronomy is easy, but I was very into astronomy as a teen, so I feel much more comfortable with it.

This is the plan I put together for her, with her help. We decided on a spine, a hands-on manual, several reading selections, and a couple of documentary series.

* Main Astronomy Spine *


* Hands-On Observing *

  • Binocular Highlights: 99 Celestial Sights for Binocular Users - We already had this on hand, which is always a plus.  I plan to schedule one night a week for stargazing, using this book to help. We'll see how that goes! Staying up late isn't exactly my cup of tea, but I think it could be a really fun year if we were able to dedicate that much time to stargazing.


* Readings *

I plan to have her read through these books, one at a time, in any order she likes. I came up with a list of possibilities and she chose these six.



* Documentaries *

She would like to watch an astronomy-related documentary once a week or so. We'll start with these, then add others in as time allows.

And that's our plan for ninth grade astronomy!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Blog Break

Just a quick note to say that I'm taking a short blog break because we are off on a long-planned trip, starting at 2:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. I am feeling tired just thinking about that, but excited too. I have about a thousand posts I want to do as we wrap up our year of learning over the next few weeks.

We did not get to much homeschooling this week - but packing, getting ready, and dealing with last minute airline changes has been an education in itself. One thing I did get around to doing was ordering the Sonlight Summer Readers for Rose. I have always wanted to do this, but never had a kid that was very interested. My boys don't really enjoy reading fiction, except for Percy Jackson, and Grace is very particular about what she will read outside of school. Rose however, was thrilled when I asked her if she wanted a set of summer books. Sonlight is even throwing in a free book (while supplies last), which makes it an even better value.

I'll be back in a week or two:).

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Review of A Child's Introduction to Poetry

James and I have been reading through A Child's Introduction to Poetry, as scheduled in BookShark's American History 1.

This book is also scheduled in Sonlight's Core D, which I did with Grace and Christopher, so this is my second time through the book. It is one of my very favorite books from this Core, and it's a really easy way to do a poetry study with young kids.

This book is scheduled over 36 weeks: a full school year. We generally cover one poet per week.  Each poem has an accompanying CD track, so you can listen to the poem being read aloud. 

Our poetry CD has a permanent spot in our disc changer. I don't think it has moved since last August!

A Child's Introduction to Poetry is a full-color, nicely illustrated book with lots of helpful sidebars. It is definitely a book best read side-by-side on the couch, so you can pore over it a bit.  Each poet generally gets a double-page spread, though some poets have three pages. Each week I begin by reading aloud the main text, which includes information about the poet's life and work.

Next I read the "Words for the Wise" section, which introduces words from the poem that might be unfamiliar. In the poem itself, these words appear in bold, colored print.

A sidebar includes information about when the poem was published, as well as some insight into its meaning. This sidebar also includes the relevant track number on the CD that we will listen to.

Then I read the poem aloud. This week we had "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, one of my very favorite poets.

 After I read the poem aloud, we listen to the narrator read it on the CD. We usually listen to each poem twice, because I feel like we get more out of it that way. Some poets are given space for two or three poems, depending on length.  This takes us only 15 minutes tops, and then we are done until the next week.

The only small quibble I have with this book is that I don't like the narrators' voices. I just don't always love the way they read the poems and the voices they do are kind of cheesy. For the record I don't enjoy hearing Jim Weiss reading The Story of the World either, so I may just be weird. Other than that I love this book/CD combo. There is a good mix of easier, shorter poems and longer, more advanced ones. Many forms of poetry are included: sonnets, pastorals, limericks, ballads, nursery rhymes, and more. I think Amazon's age range of 8-13 for this book is spot on.We are using it during James's fourth grade year.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Review of Greek Alphabet Code Cracker

Grace will be starting Athenaze soon, after a failed experience with Galore Park's Introduction to Classical Greek. In the linked post above, I mentioned that she worked through Greek Alphabet Code Cracker before beginning GP.  She really enjoyed this gentle, fun introduction to Greek!

Code Cracker is published by Classical Academic Press and its purpose is to teach the Greek alphabet - how to recognize, write, and pronounce each letter. CAP recommends Code Cracker for first grade and up. Grace used it this year, her 8th grade year, and although the tone of the book is young and fun, she thought it was a great help and did not feel too old for it at all.

 Code Cracker is a consumable workbook with a twist: it is also a mystery story. If you can crack the code (the Greek alphabet), you can solve the crime. The first mission is to figure out who stole a priceless Grecian urn from a museum. Clues are scattered among more traditional workbook activities, and part of each clue is written in Greek.  The Greek alphabet is introduced right away and audio files on the CAP website can help with pronunciations.

By the end of Unit 1 the thief's identity is revealed, but the urn is still missing. The rest of the book includes eyewitness testimony (again, partially in Greek), interspersed with more workbook exercises. The exercises take you through six Greek letters at a time, a nice slow pace.

 There are lots of different activites.

Practicing the alphabet

Writing words in Greek


Reading words in Greek

Cracking clues!

More word recognition

Unscrambling words

After studying the letters you learn about consonant blends, vowels, and diphthongs before finally solving the crime. The book ends with a short reference section, plus space for kids to write their own cypher messages, and a cypher wheel you can assemble. Grace chose not to do that, but it looks neat.

This book will be staying on her shelf for reference as she moves on to Athenaze and if anyone else wants to learn Greek, they will definitely be getting their own copy. Not exactly holding my breath for that, but you never know!