Everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Arrow Academy – Catching Up

Hey, y’all.  Today I thought I’d share some of highlights from the past month or so of school.  I know I started the year by doing weekly wrap-ups of school news, but I soon realized I wouldn’t be able to keep up that pace.  So now my plan is this:  whenever I think I’ve collected enough pictures, I’ll try to sit down and fill y’all in on our academic progress.  Sound like a good plan??

Perhaps the best way for me to plough through 6 weeks worth of scholastic information is to tackle it one subject at a time.  I’ll throw in some pictures where applicable.

Let’s start with math, shall we?  Math is my favorite!  Maybe because it’s full of rules, and it’s so straight forward.  Only one right answer.  No wishy-washy stuff.  Lol.  Anyway, Ty is making great strides in arithmetic this year.  I’m sure it’s because he has such a wonderful teacher.  Wink, wink.  Seriously, though, I think he’s breezing through the material so quickly because aBeka 5th grade arithmetic seems to be a repeat of aBeka 4th grade arithmetic.  With the exception of negative numbers and percent, Ty’s already been introduced to all of the information we’ve covered this year:  fractions, decimals, long division, geometry, and metrics.  Like Yogi Bera says, “It’s deja vu all over again.”  And because it’s been one big review this year, I’ve felt the freedom to skip around in the text - which is part of the beauty of homeschooling.  I can spend more time on things Ty needs the most help with and hurry through the things he can do in his sleep.

And what about Lucy’s numbers?  Here’s a list of what’s she has been working on:

  • addition facts - through the 7’s family
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  • counting by 5’s & 10’s
  • counting money - pennies, nickels, & dimes
  • before and after numbers up to 100
  • telling time to the nearest hour, quarter-, and half-hourIMG_4005 - Copy (800x533)
  • measuring to the nearest inch
  • recognizing and spelling number words 1-10

In the realm of the English language, Ty has covered all eight parts of speech and has just begun a quick review of punctuation & capitalization rules.  He should be able to finish up all the language mechanics before Christmas break.  That means the second half of the year will be entirely devoted to honing his writing skills.  Ordinarily, Ty might not be too thrilled with that idea, but since implementing our new Brave Writer curriculum, Ty has been a little more receptive to his writing assignments.

Moving along, Lucy has been steadily improving in phonics and reading.  She continues to drill blends and special sounds, and she is doing a lot of work differentiating short- and long- vowel words.  I will say that she finds all this practicing of sounds very mundane.  Not a day goes by that she doesn’t complain when I pull out her phonics workbook,  which is why I’m constantly looking for new ways to do the same old schoolwork.

Enter window writing.  Thanks for the idea, Auntie Angel!  What a great way to trick the monkeys into doing their work without complaining.  Even Tacy Mae loves to get in on the action.  Ty and Lucy actually beg me to do work on the windows.

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Lucy also continues to make advancements in penmanship.  She is only a couple of letters away from knowing how to write the entire lowercase alphabet.  She just needs to keep practicing her strokes until it all becomes second nature to her.

Lucy asked me to take this picture of her writing, but not because she was proud of her work.  No, it was because she was proud of her outfit.  For some reason, last week, Lucy decided she had to get dressed up for school everyday.  She’d come downstairs each morning wearing her Sunday best and declare that she was ready to, “go to high school.”  She even packed her backpack!  One day while working in her phonics notebook she blurted out, “Why am I doing a kindergarten book?  I’m 16 years old for Pete’s sake!”  Geez!  What am I going to do with her when she really is 16?

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Let’s talk history.  It’s definitely one of our favorite subjects this year thanks to the fact that we made the switch to The Mystery of History. We are only a handful of lessons away from completing the first half of Volume 1.  In the past few weeks we’ve talked mainly about the history of Israel:  its judges, its first few kings, its division, its prophets, and its fall to the Assyrians.

Our history timeline is progressing nicely.  Timeline time is one of the most anticipated activities of our week, but it’s also a time that results in much arguing between the monkeys.

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I try to divide things up so that Ty and Lucy get to create an equal number of figures to add to our board, but I also have to be mindful which figures I assign to whom, since Lucy usually creates her characters with pink and rainbow outfits, rock star hairdo’s, and long eyelashes.  As you might imagine, Lucy’s fashion sense drives Ty bonkers, but it does yield quite an interesting timeline.

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Finally, let’s talk science.  Without a doubt, it’s the monkeys favorite part of our school day.  This year we’ve been studying human anatomy one body system at a time.  Most recently we’ve covered the cardiovascular system and the nervous and endocrine systems.  Lemme tell ya’, the monkeys have learned a ton regarding these topics.  Even Lucy can tell you the in’s and out’s of the heart and blood vessels.

I try to work in some hands-on learning whenever possible.  The monkeys love it so much, and it really helps them learn.  Here we were discussing diffusion and how oxygen in the body moves from areas of high concentration to low concentration.  I think the visual really helped Ty and Lucy understand the concept.

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Sweet Tacy Mae was content to munch on pancakes while we were doing our oxygen demonstration.

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After talking a bit about the blood itself, we moved on to the heart.  I admit I had forgotten so much of this information from my own years of school, and I was just as interested in learning the material as the kids were.

As we learn more and more about the intricacies of the human body, I am more amazed at how wonderfully we are created.  This is the thing that I try to stress to the monkeys as we are studying the facts:  God made them perfectly on purpose and with a plan.

During our heart unit, we constructed a very simple model of the heart using graham crackers, colored icing, and straws.

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As you might have guessed, there was a lot of “licking the spoon” going on during this activity.  The blue lips and blue hair prove it.

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After spending several weeks on the heart and blood we moved on to the nervous system.  I am particularly excited to teach this unit to the kids because I have a degree in psychology.  For once I actually feel qualified to teach them!  I love studying the brain and how people store and process information, and I am happy to see that Ty is intrigued by it too.

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In studying the anatomy of the nervous system, the kids used play dough to build models of the brain and neurons. 

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It was a simple activity really, but it drove home the point, and all three monkeys had fun with it.  I’m pretty sure Ty and Lucy can now draw and label neurons in their sleep.

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For another fun activity on the brain, I had Ty take a brain hemisphere test online.  And the results?  No surprise, really.  Ty is definitely right-brained.  You know, the creative, thinks-in-pictures type.  Then I decided to test myself.  Most people I know would probably characterize me as right-brained, but no, no.  I tested overwhelmingly left-brained.  Analytical, orderly, rule-oriented, aware of consequences, good speller.

I’m the complete opposite of my pupil.  No wonder we butt heads so often when it comes to school.  I expect him to sit still, copy spelling words from top to bottom, complete worksheets in an organized and timely manner, and be happy about it all.  It’s what I would do!  But not Ty.  He’s going to answer questions by drawing pictures.  He copies his spelling words from side to side or bottom to top (and spell them incorrectly.)  He’s notoriously bad at math facts and timed tests, but he’s never had trouble grasping any arithmetic concept I’ve thrown his way.

What’s a teacher to do?  Get creative!  Luckily there is a ton of helpful ideas and information out there on how to best teach right-brained kids.  Most importantly, they need to see things.  We’ve already implemented some strategies in our spelling lessons.  Besides window writing of course, Ty and I have made some colorful, illustrated flashcards for his spelling lists.  The simple, quirky pictures we’ve drawn really have helped Ty see the words in his mind.  I think maybe, just maybe, we have finally found the key to Ty’s spelling heart. 

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Well, that about wraps things up for now.  As you can see we’ve been super busy around here, so we really did enjoy our Thanksgiving break.  And to think, we’ve only three weeks until Christmas break.  Woo hoo!!!!  I love Christmas break now even more than when I was a student.


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