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05 October 2012

Weekly Wrap-up: the one with the Books

This week has been all about books. I'm working on organizing my bookshelves, which is a huge job. And, of course, there's schoolwork to be done. Turns out this week we've focused on reading. Funny how putting shelves in order encourages that! Plus, I did some sewing, and in the midst of all that, I have to be careful not to do too much or I get contractions. At 22 weeks, that is Not OK. But, when I went in to get checked over the verdict is that the contractions are not doing anything, so no restrictions at this point. Still, I take naps every afternoon that I can manage it, since that is the single most effective way I have to turn them down or even off for a while. Makes life interesting! The other exciting thing with the pregnancy this week is that Hero was the first person to feel the baby kick besides me! I wish that I'd been able to get a picture of his grin; he was so pleased.

As I started organizing our books, the very first thing I did was get a bin for "easy books." It's been wildly successful. Hero can choose any books he likes for his quiet time. The first day I had books in it Hero chose them for his quiet time. And then he sat there, all by himself, and read them!! I was laying down too, trying to get some rest as well, but listening to my boy read books of his choice, and really read them, I sure was one Happy Happy Mama!

"Keeping a Nature Journal" I got out to show him some of the cool things that he can put into his new nature journal that we just started taking with us when we go out to the park. Turned out that it was a fruitful book twice: not only did he like looking at the picture, but we also had a conversation about how art is a skill that is developed over time, so if he wants to draw like the author (and he says he does), then he needs to keep practicing and be patient with himself. One thing that really surprised me when I started drawing was how much it is a skill, and how, like any skill, it can be honed with practice and study.  So often, people think of art and music as talents: a thing that either you've got or you don't, and I don't believe it. After teaching music lessons, I am convinced that for the garden-variety musician, the one who plays for personal enjoyment and maybe helps out at church a bit,  persistent practice is way more important that raw talent. The most talented student I ever taught refused to practice and dropped out after just a few months, and so she does not play piano. The one that scared me the first time I taught him, because that first lesson was so awful and I wondered how we would ever get anywhere, turned out to be the best practicer that I ever had and he went places. I want to use this knowledge to my children's advantage, to teach them that if they work at it, they can draw, or play, or pretty much whatever it is, and do it well. Maybe not world-class, but well.

History's going well too. Not a lot of hands-on stuff this week, but lots of reading and that sort of learning. We're still exploring Rome, and he's loving it. He brought me the "How To Be a Roman Soldier" book and asked me to read it to him, and we've done a page or two at a time till we're nearly through the book, all because he keeps asking for it. Pompeii is a beautiful book with some awesome illustrations, and we're also doing it a little bit at a go, and he's loving that one as well. We also watched this BBC documentary about the last day in Pompeii. I was expecting something about the archeology of the site, but it's about what it was like for the people living through the last day, experiencing the eruption in the city. Pretty intense. One interesting thing is that there's no word for "volcano" in Latin: they had absolutely no idea what was happening, so many didn't even try to run away until it was way too late. But it sounds like even those who ran didn't fare very well. The power of that volcano is ... intense. Hero handled the video, but he thought about asking me to turn it off, even though I was there snuggling him while we watched. I did try to take the edge off when they were talking about some of the children who died by reminding him that those kids went straight to Jesus. It seemed to help. Still. This one definitely warrants some parental guidance, more so than other documentaries we've watched. 

This one was much more of archaeology, and deals with some of the problems of preservation. It's got some beautiful scenes of what the buildings in Pompeii and Herculeum look like today. It was long, but that let me work on a shirt I'm sewing.

On Wednesday we headed to the local children's museum. We recently purchased a membership, so we've been able to go more often, and that's fun. The other good thing is that, since it's an annual membership, I don't feel like I need to stay the whole day to make it worth the expense of going. Plus, since we were there during school hours, there was hardly anyone else in the building, and it was so nice to be able to get turns - long turns - on some of the most popular exhibits that are always super busy. Hero's never had so much time on the crane, and he was making some great progress on figuring out how to make it do what he wants.

I'm noticing that there is a certain ebb and flow to the way that our school work gets done. There for a while, math was the thing to do. Hero was going great guns, and we got tons of math done, but phonics moved along slowly. Now that reading is taking off, we've backed off the math somewhat. When we do a lot of history there tends to be less science. In general, I think this is OK. It allows us to come at what we are studying with a fresh mind and strong interest, and then to take a rest while we focus on other topics. I do try to keep things from sliding too much, particularly core things like math and phonics. This week we returned to fractions in our math. A couple weeks ago, when math was peaking and taking up tons of our time, we started to explore fractions. Then, as the reading took off they took something of a backseat. I'm glad we didn't let them sit any longer; Hero was starting to show signs of forgetting the stuff that he was finding easy previously. But with a very little bit of nudging to get him going, he did great. I love the flexibility of Miqan-style math that allows us to explore math and follow where his interests take us to a large degree. Fractions aren't the usual fare for a 6 year old, but he's doing great with them.

It being so close to an election, politics is on my mind, and has, with the books, taken up a good amount of time. I blogged about Reid's claims that Romney "sullies" our faith, and also have been trying to compare the debate comments of the candidates to the Constitution. So far, I have a part 1 and part 2 for that. We also added the Catechism on the US Constitution to our memory work. That's going to be a very long-term project, but I think that it will be well worth it to go through and talk about the government that way. There are some parts that, due to amendments, will need tweaking. But overall, I'm excited to have found such a great tool for teaching government in a way that even young children can understand.

Check out what other homeschoolers have done this week with Chris, over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers!

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