Friday, September 16, 2011

Homeschooling: Week 1

On Monday we began our brand new venture of homeschooling Jacob for his 6th grade year. I was up late Sunday night making sure the lesson plan was ready to go...I have a feeling this is how I'll spend Sunday evenings :) I decided to use the same lesson plan format my mom used with my brother and me.  It's simple, but clear and easy for me to write it out so he can follow it. If you'd like to have it, leave your email in the comments requesting the lesson plan and I'll send it to you.

My mom actually saved everything from my entire 6th grade year. I had a few good laughs reading the stuff I wrote. I wrote a fact and opinion piece on Special K cereal. The facts were from the box like, it has X amount of calories, the box is blue, white, and red, etc. My opinions were, "It does not taste very good." "It is too healthy." LOL
For handwriting I wrote a letter to Mariah Carey at a fictional address. So funny!

This week Jacob did spelling, math, English, handwriting (aka cursive), science, home economics, history, Bible, reading, and writing. We will add in music, government, geography, business economics, language, etc as time goes on.

What materials are we using?
 Bob Jones University for English
Modern Curriculum Press for math
Spelling Workout
A Reason for Handwriting for handwriting and cursive
Sower Series for history for now. I have other stuff we'll do as well.
Backyard Scientist and lots of other misc, very fun stuff for science.

I am blessed to have an entire hutch FULL of books we can use. My mom saved everything from homeschooling us 20 years ago. I just grabbed the stuff that's appropriate for a 6th grader. The above first four links were things that we purchased.

Jacob works on the list on his lesson plan for the day, asking questions anytime he has one and I sit with him periodically to teach new concepts and that sort of thing. This week was a lot of review and figuring out what he knows or needs to learn still. English is a strength for him definitely. This week was very in depth with subjects, predicates, coordinating conjunctions, sentence structure, etc and he caught on quickly and did well. Math was a review of the basics; addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, etc. Once we got past subtraction he had a tougher time. We'll be working a lot on math and the multiplication tables. He is doing well at handwriting. He says he likes the book this year and that it's easier to understand and learn the letters than the book he had at school last year. Yay! The spelling book is great so far. It took him a bit of time as spelling is not a super strength of his, but with time he will do well.

History, particularly American History, seems to be majorly lacking in his knowledge repertoire. I feel like that's just sad since he's been in American public schools for the last 5 years. He told Craig and me that George Washington was the 2nd President and not a Founding Father. My heart sank. American public schools have failed him on that one! I LOVE history, so we'll be making sure to catch him up and get him excited about history as well. This past week we studied Christopher Columbus. Craig says I should do George Washington next week, and that's not a half bad idea, ha!

I'm pretty proud of our first science experiment since it's the first one I've ever had to teach and I put it together myself. My goal was to teach him a scientific principle and also make him aware of a major catastrophic event. So here it is:

Experimenting in the Kitchen- Oil and Water

  • Watch several videos about the BP oil spill. We watched one showing the underwater footage and a couple showing the damage to land and animals. 
  • Talk about what caused the oil spill, what was done to remedy it (ha, that's a joke!) and what the resulting devastation was.

1)Smear a little butter on a plate (let your child do it). Hold the plate under the cold tap. Does the water make the plate clean? Does the water mix with the butter?
2) Add a little dishwashing liquid to the butter and mix it in with your fingers.
3)Hold the plate under the tap again. What happens this time? Does the water still roll off the butter?
4)Dishwashing liquid helps water to mix with things better than it can on it's own. This is how it helps to make things clean, such as the animals affected by the oil spill.
     Cleaning Birds- "Sea-birds can get covered in spilled oil, which water cannot wash off by itself. People use a cleaner like blue Dawn dishwashing liquid to remove the oil."

We talked a bit more in depth about why oil and water don't mix on their own and how the soap acts as a medium between the two allowing them to mix. I feel that overall it was a very good experiment. First of all, he had no idea a huge oil spill had even happened and second, he really seemed to understand. He liked how the water just ran off his finger with the butter still on it. I told him that was how it was for the poor birds caught in the oil. You'd think that it wouldn't be a problem for them to get clean since they live on the water, but the oil makes a waterproof coating and they cannot get clean by themselves.

We're really having to work on keeping him focused on what he is doing. I don't know how he could've possibly paid attention in a classroom with 20 kids when he can't pay attention in a quiet room with just me. It's mind boggling. I'm starting to understand why he was so desperate to homeschool and how he didn't know George Washington was the 1st President. It's like this, Jacob says, "So, the principle is i before e except after...oh and that leaf on the window is kind of a weird color.....c, right? So I need to switch the lett.....oh and, um, oh, um, and wanna read a story I wrote? Well, actually I need to write it. I just thought of it."
Not kidding. All day. I feel like a kid like that would just get chewed up and swallowed in a public school system. His math and history deficiencies would just get worse and he'd continue learning only half of what is being taught. He's too distracted to catch the other half. I'm glad that I can give him one on one time and can hopefully teach him the art of being focused and finishing a page, actually I'd be happy with a finished thought at this point :) He is incredibly bright. Brain space and intelligence are clearly not the issue. He's doing better with subjects and predicates than many adults would and he can clearly articulate and write down what he's learning in history. It's an issue of distractedness and I'm sure we'll be working on it all year. I'm keeping things as hands on as I can to help with the distraction issue.

Last night Jacob did a science experiment with Craig, this time from The Backyard Scientist. It was about surface tension and making a boat go with soap power. So fun!
                                              First, we had a large cooler filled with water.
                                      Then we had empty milk cartons cut in half to make the 'boats'.
                      First, Jacob put the 'boat' down with nothing on it to see what would happen.
                                                    The boat floated, but didn't propel forward.
  Then our trusty blue Dawn made another scientific appearance. Jacob placed a drop of Dawn at the back of the boat and put it back in the water.
 Amazingly, the boat lunged forward and went all the way across and even turned around at the end. It was pretty incredible. Jacob said, "WOW, THAT'S SO COOL. We really made soap power!!!" I believe Craig and I both sighed relief that the experiment actually worked. Lol. Craig went into detail with Jacob about surface tension and how and why it worked and why it didn't work without soap. Jacob wrote his 'observations' and 'solutions' in his binder in the 'science' section. It was fun!

If you are looking for fun, out of the box ways to teach science, I highly recommend checking out The Backyard Scientist.

I did home economics with Jacob today. We made chicken soup with rotisserie chicken, mixed wild rice, quinoa, carrots, celery, onions, and herbs (broth based). I didn't use a recipe, which is pretty much my norm, but told Jacob next time we'll use a recipe so he can learn how to do that, too. I cook by 'feel', same as my mom and he'll learn to cook that way, too. Don't get me wrong, I can easily read a cookbook, I just like to go by feel. Same way I like to sing :) Making the soup allowed me to teach him how to stir veggies, why we use olive oil, what simmering is, how to make broth, how to measure properly (yes, I let him use measuring cups even without a recipe), how to separate chicken from bones/tendons/cartilage/etc, etc. He loves learning to cook and I'm glad to teach him. There is something so sad about children not learning to cook or doing things hands on. My mom was an excellent teacher to my brother and me and that is why we both love cooking and being in the kitchen. It takes a certain confidence in the kitchen for someone to feel comfortable to try new things, cook without a recipe, etc. That confidence comes from practice and someone teaching and encouraging. When he got here Jacob had never made anything in the kitchen before. I told him putting cold cereal in a bowl or microwaving a Hot Pocket don't count :) He is learning a lot and his future wife will thank me someday!

So, yup, it was a great first week!

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