I suppose that out of the abundance of the heart, the computer typeth. In the midst of keeping it real, I should say that we really are, overall, having some fun times in school. We took a trip to Sea World-San Antonio on last weekend, which was originally planned to allow the 5-year-old an opportunity to see the Backyardigans. It didn’t occur to me until sitting with my son over his science book how timely the trip was. He’s studying swimming creatures this year, and we were able to gain so much from our studies by recalling what we saw on the trip. Wow, what a concept, huh? (smile) In all honesty, I was a bit disappointed with Sea World. It’s much smaller than I thought, and my husband and I were noting that there were a number of people leaving the park as we arrived at 2:30. We figured out later that the lion’s share of the feedings and animal encounters occur in the morning or mid-afternoon, so we spent most of our time in line waiting for the afternoon and evening shows to begin. However, nothing I’ve seen compared to Shamu’s performance.
I don’t know that I was expecting to see the killer whale eat one of the performers, but I was amazed at how trainable these animals are. In our reading, we found out that they are called “killer” whales because of their fierce attacks on other sea animals, including other whales. However, they are friendly to people and, as we noted, very teachable. It was awesome.
Without doubt, I didn’t follow my own advice and was a victim of packaging this year with the 5-year-old’s curriculum. I’ve used Making Math Meaningful with the older two for years, and I’ve enjoyed it up until this year. I’m having to pull upon too many outside resources in order to cement the younger kids’ understanding of the Metric system, time, and multiplication (in the old school way that I’m accustomed to it being taught). I will say, though, in the spirit of not being a curriculum basher, David Quine’s customer service is exceptional—one of the reasons I stayed with his product for so long. However, after I used the K product with the youngest and she began to teach me, I thought it might be time to move on. So, after some intimidation over the “advanced student” label of many reviewers, I loosened the purse strings and bought Horizons. It’s a good-looking product with an approach to learning that the 5-year-old will probably love in that a number of concepts are introduced at once rather than novice to mastery on one concept, then novice to mastery over the next, etc. It’s still beneath where she is minus the actual forming of the numbers in writing, but we don’t have the luxury of not using something once that kind of money is spent. So, we sometimes complete a couple of lessons in a day until she tires out.
Bob Jones has been even less of a good fit for us. I like the beginning readers—gorgeously illustrated and with actual meaningful and interesting stories. Today, I had all 32 books stacked on the table, and I jokingly told the 5-year-old that we were going to read them all. She looked at the stack and said, “That’s going to take all day, but okay!” Looking at the readers made me buy the whole phonics/ worktext package. There are so many possible activities until I find myself a bit overwhelmed, which isn’t their fault, of course. But the exercises are ridiculously simple in some cases (circle the building in which the family will enter, and there’s only one building on the page), and the subtle sexist messages are at times unbearable. Why can’t a son enjoy a cookbook? Why can’t a daughter get a kick out of building something with her mom or dad? Moreover, why can’t a girl like dolls and trains? So, here I sit with $150 in pretty curriculum for her (I normally spend about twice that much for all 3 children), and I’m disappointed. I’ll definitely have to back up and punt as I consider our course for next year. Both math and phonics programs tend to build upon one another, so hmmm…
I love when learning and discovery happen totally outside of you. After school, i.e. her time at the table, is finished, the 5-year-old generally likes to rest on the couch (still a bit groggy from being an early riser).
She told me one day about how she was learning “lots of stuff” from her view outside the window. I’ve sat sometimes to enjoy it with her. The hummingbird was a bit too fast for me, but I caught this guy. Now we just have to figure out what he is.
She also showed me how she was spending her free time in the game room; she had put the pieces of our Thomas the Tank Engine set into a very elaborate course for the trains. Maybe she’s the engineer out of the bunch.
For all our scrapes over dawdling and daydreaming, the oldest is kicking most of her subjects in the rear, especially Algebra 1 and Physical Science! (an end which makes the means that much more frustrating). I’ve heard so many nightmares and horror stories about middle school/high school kids and higher maths and sciences. I had all kinds of back up plans in the works. Today, we had a wonderful discovery time together watching a hydrogen peroxide/yeast mixture release enough oxygen to blow up a balloon. It was good to spend time together without thinking, "How far behind are we now?"
Friday is our day for current events, and this is definitely one of several bright spots. I have two computers bookmarked for worldontheweb.com and studentnewsdaily.com so that each one can work at his/her own pace. It brings me great pleasure to hear them exclaim to one another, “Did you see this?” “Which one are you going to write about?” “Did you read the one about…?” It’s neat to have kids that enjoy being informed. I’ve got a grin on my face just anticipating the week’s end.