24 July 2015

Agent Homeschooling 2015-2016: Week 4

I’m having some trouble wrapping my brain around the fact that we are done with week 4 of this school year already, but, alas, here we are. We’re also gearing up to take our first break. (Yeah for year-round schooling.) I use the term “break” loosely, though, because in reality we will end up taking one or two travel days off but actually “do” school for at least part of our adventure. 

Last weekend we won a life-size Yoda
Math: Both Agent E (4th) and Agent J (2nd) continue to work on their respective math practice workbooks daily. We now have 7 of the 10 Life of Fred elementary series books out of the library. And yes, we plan on keeping them and renewing them as many times as the library will allow until someone else puts in a request for them and we’re forced to return them. While both Senior Agents have perused all them, we decided to go back and actually read them together and do all of the activities starting next week.

Language Arts: This week was adverbs. I’m kind of enjoying taking one teeny tiny topic at a time and exploring it for a whole week. Of course, in our discussion of adverbs we also cover spelling and vocabulary, as well as a review of other parts of speech we’ve already covered (e.g., find the verb first—last week’s lesson—and then what adverb modifies it). Current independent reading for Agent E is a Kingdom Keepers book and for Agent J is a Magic Tree House, which is unusual for her, as she doesn’t particularly care for the series. She made an exception because this particular title involves a unicorn.

Geography: We are getting started with our spine book, Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia. The first few pages discuss the formation of the solar system and then each of the planets in more detail. We’ll probably continue looking at the planets (including dwarf planets, asteroid belt, etc.) before we move on to the next section, which deals more specifically with earth’s formation.

History: We read the next few pages of History Year by Year but decided to put it on hold for next week because we’re going to be executing an abbreviated school schedule while traveling. We are just getting into the section covering Really Ancient History, and looking forward to more in-depth studies of pyramids, mummies, Egyptian gods, and Mesopotamia when we return. We continued our look at human evolution, and re-read a favorite book, Our Family Tree.
This is what happens to Ivory soap when you microwave it for 90 seconds
Science: Because our chosen primary topics for geography and history overlap into science, we don’t have a lot of specific things to list here. We did try the soap experiment illustrating Charles’ law. We also watched another Science of Disney Imagineering episode (Fluids) as well as another Animal World (Kangaroos and Tortoises/Turtles/Terrapins). Science, geography, and history blend together a lot lately. I expect that trend to continue.

Health: Our plan for this week was to start our study of the human body by looking at cells as the basic building blocks, including use of microscopes and a brief introduction to DNA. We didn’t really get very far on this, so we may either pack some of our intended reading materials or come back to it next week. We also finished watching all the available Netflix episodes of Brain Games. (We’ll probably revisit some of the concepts when we get further into our studies of each of the body systems.)

{Side note: Most of you probably don’t know this (why would you?) but I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and spent a year in graduate school working on a master’s degree I never finished. (The reasons why would be a whole series of posts.) I also worked for two different social psychologists while in college, and at one point wanted to basically become a professional student until I scored a PhD in social or educational psychology. Anyhoo, because of this background I can’t decide if I find Brain Games fascinating or if it just irritates me. Either way, it’s planted the seed that maybe someday I’d like to pursue this again, formally or not.}
Lightsaber battle . . . I mean, back yard PE
Art/Music: We added both of these to our agenda this week, so we now technically have at least touched on every subject. However, we just read the first few introductory pages of our spine books and the the Senior Agents skimmed both books together to see what is coming up. My goal is to have dedicated art/music “lessons” at least once a week going forward. Agent E continues her interest in learning the recorder (having mostly taught herself) and we are probably going to break down and buy a keyboard sometime soon.

PE: Our running program is pretty much an epic fail at this point. We do continue to aim for at least two hours of outside activity each day (weather permitting) and the Agents get plenty of unstructured play time and exercise. We will likely revisit the idea when we return from our travels.

Kindergarten: We don’t really do anything formal for Agent A, although sometimes he requests to “do” school with his sisters. We’re continuing to read a lot of level one easy reader books together. He’s also been enjoying practice letters on a dry erase board I found at Target for a dollar. Sometimes we write letters or numbers in chalk on the driveway or sidewalk. Mostly, it’s just typical four-year-old insanity at any given moment around here.

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