Saturday, October 8, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up

This was a lovely, relatively calm week following a fabulous fall break weekend with family.

Our co-op classes are going well. One of the classes I am co-teaching is called Mission to Mars. The classes are focused on preparing our 24 students (5th-8th graders) to do a simulated space mission at the Challenger Center in Chattanooga. Admittedly, teaching about space is out of my realm of expertise, but my co-teacher and I are finding no lack of fantastic material available, like this teachers' guide from Arizona State University's Mars education program.

Another class I am co-teaching is a literature circle with a theme of "extraordinary adventures." This past week we wrapped up The Indian in the Cupboard. As a project for the kids, we gave them a ziploc baggie containing a blank book (6 pages stapled between construction paper) and a single key, with directions to write an adventure of whatever toy they want to come to life. About half of the class read their stories on Monday, and we were so delighted. Each student had a totally different take on the project. As might be expected, the boys all had battles going on, and the girls had tales of friendship. I look forward to hearing the rest of them in the upcoming week. We will be reading through The Phantom Tollbooth over the next three weeks.

Duncan is in both of those classes and is also taking hands-on chemistry, Shakespeare, and boys game club. Laurel is taking all high-school classes (physical science, Excel and Powerpoint, health, art history, and drama) and is enjoying those for the most part. I think her favorite class is probably drama. They are doing what sounds like a very innovative production of Alice in Wonderland, and I can't wait to see their performance in January!

At home throughout the rest of the week, Laurel does all her homework for those classes as well as our Friday literature and history co-op classes and also does the dreaded math. I decided to purchase Math Mammoth's algebra 1 program to supplement Teaching Textbooks. I really like Teaching Textbooks; I just think it isn't quite thorough enough. Math Mammoth has lots of word problems, which I find lacking in TT. We haven't started Math Mammoth yet, so I'll give a progress report in a few weeks.

Duncan and I are one chapter away from finishing The Master Puppeteer. We've been working on what is sure to be a fantastic lapbook on Japan this week. I'll post the whole thing when we are done, but our favorite project this week was this bunraku theatre pop-up:

I found the template and directions for this at Ellen McHenry's Basement Workshop. This, combined with a bunraku video on youtube, really helped in understanding exactly what is going on in The Master Puppeteer. If you are doing Sonlight Core 5 (F), I highly recommend these project when you start the book!

Totally didn't do any grammar this week, but I did remember spelling. I know we are something like 6 weeks into our "new" school year, but I finally gave Duncan his spelling evaluation to see where to restart in Spelling Power. I know — I am totally lame. I plead that my kids are natural spellers, so a rigorous spelling program isn't high on my list. Still, we will be more dedicated to doing spelling each week.

The only evening activity that we had this week, amazingly, was the monthly Cub Scout pack meeting. This was the annual bike rodeo, which the boys always love.

This was Duncan's last bike rodeo, as he'll be moving up to Boy Scouts next year. He is so ready! But the bike rodeo really renewed his love of bike riding, and he asked if he could start riding around our neighborhood by himself. We live on a very busy road, but there is a quiet, fairly isolated subdivision right behind us. If we had sidewalks, we'd be fine with letting him ride; but somehow we've always been apprehensive about letting the kids ride in neighborhoods without sidewalks. I know, I know. If you live in a sleepy little town, you think we are being nuts. But we live in a busy area next to a major city, so we have lots of traffic and lots of people. And no sidewalks.

We decided to go with our free-range inclinations and let him ride, and he's been having a blast. He goes out on 4-5 bike rides each day, and he definitely concentrates better on schoolwork after a ride around a few blocks.

We ended the week with my British lit co-op class. We just finished reading and discussing Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which was a challenge for all of us. Epic poetry is not my passion nor my forté, but I loved reading this along with the kids and discovering the story together. I devote half of each class period to reading and discussing literature and the other half to writing. We are still in the process of covering basic essay writing, which is a review for the majority of the students. Yesterday we discussed the compare and contrast essay, so of course we had to have three types of candy in order to discuss similarities and differences. Candy makes everyone so happy.

And that brings us to the end of this week. Next week we are taking Friday off, as my oldest will be home from college on fall break. So exciting! It's been 7 weeks since he headed back to Belmont University for his sophomore year, and that is the longest we have gone without seeing him!

Guess that means I'd better go clean out his room, which has become the storage place for all miscellaneous junk.

Linked up on the Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers


  1. I'll be anxious to hear how you use the two math programs together. Teaching Textbooks is a good fit for Chloe; she even scored a grade ahead on her SAT last spring. But I've always felt like there wasn't enough review or word problems. I wish they would publish a workbook or additional cds that work with their scope & sequence.

    Rosie wants to read the Master Puppeteer & we own it. Thanks for sharing Ellen Mchenry's link! I love her site; I bookmarked several links this week.

  2. it is a great post! i like it and thank you for sharing your experience!

  3. Your co-op offers really interesting classes! I love our co-op, but most of the classes are just the basics - phonics, math, etc. I want to use Teaching Textbooks for my kids as soon as they get to that level - my oldest son, who is behind in math, is almost ready. I wish they had them for younger ones.

  4. Sounds like a great week!

    I agree that TT is not thorough enough. I have heard great things about math mammoth!

  5. I have very fond memories of The Phantom Tollbooth--can't wait until Noah is old enough to get the jokes. You should try Haroun and the Sea of Stories in class or at home--the similarities to both PT and Alice would make it especially well-timed if your kids haven't already read it. Carrie


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