Tag Archives: music

Spring 2012 Homeschool Portfolio Review: Health and PE, Art and Music, Other

And the rest of the subjects (decided by the State of Maryland) are in this post.

Health

We continued what we’ve been doing all along: reading pages of the Kidpower books, fine tuning our eating habits and hygiene, learning how to play nice with others, and so forth. Just every day stuff that most people do for their kids already.

We studied facial expressions (also as a part of art) and body language to try to do a better job of understanding how people are reacting to how we are talking or behaving.

They learned a lot about going to the doctor and interesting tests they can order, and how to just take it easy and let yourself heal, thanks to me.

I think our trips and visits with family are also a pretty important part of health.

We studied safety in emergencies and fires, in the water, in caves, in hot and cold weather, and in thunderstorms and tornadoes.

PE

We hiked and biked, played soccer, and went to gymnastics. We played with friends at the park, and ran all around the house.

Still, I think we need more. They do still spend way too much time on the computer or watching TV and I wish they were more active. Mostly they need someone to model that behavior — they simply do what they see their parents doing. I hope we can get more active soon.

 

Art

We gave up on “Meet the Masters”. It had some nice ideas, but it’s just not my style or the kids’ style. So we continued freely exploring all sorts of different media: clay, watercolors, tempera paints, finger paints, markers, pencils, pastels, and chalk. We even made art with beet juice and liquids that turn beet juice different colors. We also studied facial expressions, warm and cold colors, and background vs. foreground.

We did a few more lessons from Drawing With Children, which seems to be working out well for The Girl (and for me!).

The boy is making some really detailed and interesting line drawings.

The Baby continued to decorate the walls, floor, furniture, and herself with paint, markers, crayons, and pencil.

Music

The Boy finally got to sing in a concert with his chorus (other performances were cancelled due to weather or he was too sick to go). The kids enjoy dance parties in the living room to a wide variety of music. The Girl makes up tons of songs, and I especially like her fun little jazzy voice that she plays with when she thinks no one is listening. I’m working on trying to get them to learn to play some sort of instrument… but it’s going slowly. We’re also slowly working through lessons on MusicTheory.net to learn about notes, rhythms, and (recently) scales. They also attended a spectacular performance of their cousin playing the bass guitar. (How do I have no pictures of this?!)

Other

They are all working on their computer skills, cooking skills, and building/tool skills. To the exclusion of many other things. 😉

The boy studied Japanese a little bit, and learned a little more about Javascript and HTML.

I Guess This is What Unschooling Is Like

For those of you who aren’t homeschoolers, or don’t know a lot about it, there are actually a lot of different categories of homeschoolers. These are really general categories and there is a lot of overlap and squishiness about the categories, but sometimes it’s helpful to explain to other people the sort of philosophy you have about these things. It’s not entirely unlike explaining what sorts of foods you eat — low carb, vegetarian, kosher, and so forth. Broad categories that everyone stretches this way and that to make it work for them.

I probably can’t do justice to all the flavors of homeschooler right here, but if you’re interested the Homeschool Diner has a list they compiled.

We don’t really fit into any particular group. We have fewer rules than many families, but we’re not radical unschoolers without bedtimes or required chores or anything. I like a lot of the ideas of classical schooling, such as using original sources and mastery of concepts, but we’re not obsessed with following anyone’s particular idea of it and no one is learning latin right now! I buy curricula, but we don’t necessarily follow it, we use it as another source. We sometimes do unit studies, sometimes not. In fact, anytime I try to follow any schedule or routine or list, the kids object.

We are dedicated to randomness.

Lately, I’ve managed to injure myself in annoying ways, or get sick, or find some other reason to be busy, or cranky, or unprepared, and we’ve had a week or two (ahem) here or there (cough) where maybe we weren’t all at the kitchen table doing math worksheets every morning, if you know what I mean.

But the kids still learn. It really hard to keep them from learning, as it turns out. Boredom actually causes them to do all sorts of things. And kids can make anything fun.

One day a few weeks ago, all of us were sick with a fever, a cold, or bronchitis, so my son was playing on the computer. He was using Minecraft, along with a friend of his half way across the country, and he managed to do an entire day of school-worthy activities in just about every subject we need to cover.

This is what a home school sick day looks like: he had to multiply out the gold he won in the minecraft RPG he and his friend invented and divide by 64 to see how many stacks that would be (math). He’s making logic gates to power his doors and traps (science). He has to type to me to communicate (English). He taught his sister about the immune response system (health). He made a sculpture of a creeper (Art) and composed a song about how it holds his treasure chests (Music). As soon as I fix the printer, he can print and mail a certificate for another Junior Ranger badge (history — it’s about Clara Barton). 

It’s semesters like this one that makes me wonder if I’m going to eventually just relax, let go of the reins of control, and just be an unschooler. I wonder how far away that even is…

Free Stuff: Music Theory

I was looking around the internet for something to use to help teach The Boy how to read music, and I stumbled upon a nice free Music Theory site, musictheory.net. It’s nothing too long or complicated, but it covers what I wanted: basic notes, time signatures, chords, and so forth. It has a mode where it has a picture for each line of text that you just click through, so it could be used by a more independent user. Or, you could print out the whole lesson with each image and the line of text associated with it. The third option is an Apple device app, but I don’t have one of those (Update 2016: My husband has it on his iPad).

We use a lot of books and web sites like this — homeschoolers call it a “spine”. Just something with the bare facts that you can follow to have a basic set of information in a nice order. After that, you supplement  with other books, activities, trips, or whatever is appropriate. It’s just nice to not have to invent the entire class from scratch.

The Boy already learned some of the same information in his singing class, so he knew what a whole note or half note was, but he hadn’t been asked to actually read them and clap out the notes before. So I used our handy dry erase sentence strips to write a measure of notes on. In the not-to-distant future, I hope to at least teach him how to read the scale, and construct major and minor scales and chords, plus read simple songs and play them on something. Then I want to turn him loose to compose.

Next year, if everything works out, he can join a local homeschool band.

Update, 2016: Instead of taking up an instrument, he’s been making music electronically with a program called MixCraft. We also are slowly learning some more piano…

This week in Homeschooling #9 and #10

The past week is a blur of tiredness and illness. We all came down with the infamous rotavirus, and had fevers and horribleness. (And just as I’m publishing this, looks like the baby has roseola on top of everything. Wow. What a bad week.)

Math practice

World maths Day!

The Boy participated in World Maths Day, competing against kids from around the world in doing addition and subtraction problems against each other in real time. He was so delighted he declared his two favorite subjects to be “math and competition”. So I signed him up for spring soccer — but I’m sure this is one of those teams you’re not supposed to be too competitive on. Whatever. Like you can stop kids.

We also are moving our facts memorization to a cabinet. If you open the right door you can quiz yourself! Plus, it’s right next to where he eats, so he’ll get it by osmosis. The girl is enjoying quizzing us on math and doing simple addition and subtraction still.

Baby plants!

Science

We played with acids and bases and red cabbage
indicator, planted plants, and saw the tulips start coming up in the
backyard. We talked about spring and signs of spring, too. In the past
few days they’ve learned a lot more about earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear reactors, as well. 🙁

Health

We learned a lot about electrolytes, dehydration, and ways your body fights disease. Hands on!

A guy with a urine-based laser gun

Art

A lot of our sick time we’ve been doodling and drawing things.

Social Studies

We started re-watching Liberty’s Kids since we’re about to read the chapter of our book about the American Revolution. We’ve also been talking about all the uprisings going on around northern Africa right now and discussing different sorts of governments.

English

The boy has been typing emails and text messages to me, family and friends a lot lately. He’s also started reading Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke. He’s heard it read to him twice, but it’s an enormous book written somewhere in the 4th-5th grade level, and he’s already about 50 pages into it, I think. I’m proud of him just for trying! The girl has been doing a lot of writing of letters, and trying to sound out small words. The baby is using more and more words and has started playing with consonants. Which should help us be able to understand her. (Right now, she mostly talks in vowels, which makes me slightly crazy.)

Painting with dirt

PE

We went to PE class right before we came down with the evil
illness. With spring just about here, it was impossible to keep the
kids happy playing in a gym. So we adjourned to the park. 😀 Also, we
went to gymnastics class last week (but not this week).

Music

The kids went to their cousin’s band concept and enjoyed it thoroughly! Excellent band. We also listened to some Irish music in the lead up to St. Patrick’s Day. Plus, they listened to their dad work on a song he’s been composing for, um, 10 years or so. The boy went to a singing class where they talked a bit about harmony, chords, and rests.

Scrubbing dishes

Other

While they weren’t sick, they did some cooking and enjoyed cleaning. They both suddenly like mopping (which is a good thing, since they keep tracking mud everywhere) and the girl constantly begs to help scrub dishes!

This week in Homeschooling #5 and #6

This is what I remember from the week of 1/31/2011 – 2/11/2011. I combined two weeks since I’m behind, and because week six was mostly about being sick.

Math

The boy is spending time memorizing his addition, subtraction, and multiplications tables, and doing some review problems. Also, we reviewed factoring and prime numbers, one of his favorite topics. The girl is working on addition with digits 0-5.

We studied probability a little bit, by rolling our platonic and archimedian 8 sided dice and regular 2d6. All results were tallied and plotted on appropriate graphs, and why things ended up the way they did. Naturally we had to reconcile our observations with our hypotheses. 😉 Then we used that knowledge to figure out when you would want a weapon that did 1d12 damage vs. 3d4 damage.

And we played math games. Interesting variants on war, go fish, and so forth to do some computation. He also signed up for international maths day, which is March 1st, and practiced some.

Science

After watching part of a documentary about Yellowstone in the winter and the wolves that live there, we learned about a neat learning game called WolfQuest, where you get to pretend to be a wolf. The Boy played until he won it, learning a lot about wolf body language, raising wolf pups, and wolf pack behavior. He was especially amazed when he chased off an alpha male from the druid pack. It made his day!

The Girl’s science lessons are continuing, and we read a short book about the different forms of energy, what energy is, and what energy does. The Boy finished up his lesson about cells and cell division. Then we started (and finished!) a lesson about fungi and bacteria, classification, and decomposition. They loved this one!

We also read a lot about pre-dinosuar plants and animals, which also doubles as The Girls entry into her history lessons. I absolutely adore a book we found at the library, When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life before Dinosaurs. The Girl also wanted this book, Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones, read to her over and over. I really like his books.

And we talked about the magnetic fields around earths and learned what “concentric torses” are.

LA

The girl is doing well with All About Spelling. She knows most of her phonograms decently well, and now we’re playing with making short three-letter words. She still gets confused about letters having to be in order and starting on the left. Or maybe she’s just pretending to to make me insane. There really isn’t any telling. She can set up the letters in alphabetical order, though, which is a great achievement!

We read more about poetry, about alliteration and bringing it together with rhyme and meter and onomatopoeia to bring about interesting effects with words, and The boy wrote a poem. In grammar, we studied prepositional phrases and independent clauses and marked up the structure of many more sentences. He’s done with Grammar Island and gets to move on to Sentence Island. Yay! And we started the first chapter of Sentence Island, which was review of the contents of Grammar Island, plus an introduction to the new characters for that book.

We read a lot of books together. A lot. And The Boy even read a few on his own.

PE

They both did their gymnastics and extra gym time, but I think I’ve learned that the extra hour is far too much all at once for them. They get way too tired. Plus, The Boy hurt his back, and laid in bed the rest of the afternoon, evening, and most of the next day.

We also watched the Superbowl and a hockey game, and the kids learned a bit about the rules for those sports.

Health

We did some coloring pages from Kid Power, which teaches about how to not be a victim and when and how to get help when you’re in a dangerous situation. Also some about dealing with bullies and projecting confidence.

We also talked way, way, way too much about egg fertilization and sperm and printed a bazillion weird pictures. And discussed prudish people with our grandparents.

Art

We didn’t have any planned art activities, but there is always a lot of building and coloring going on around the house.

Music

While we had to miss one class for colds, the other class went well. The boy is learning more songs, and more about music as well as other cultures and time periods. I’m constantly amazed at how well behaved he is in this class.

Social Studies/History

This week, we read about the decline of the Ottoman empire. We also touched on a lot of other history in our other discussions. For example, when we were discussing American prudishness, we reviewed about Puritans, and discussed how the same subjects are treated differently in other countries. Plus all the good dinosuar and pre-dinosaur content is considered history and science around here. 🙂 We discussed the history of animal classification when we discussed fungi and bacteria, from Linneaus to the 1960s when they added new Kingdoms, and then in the past decade when they’ve restructured into Domains. And in music class, they learned a song in Hebrew, plus some more Old West cowboy tunes, and talked about the meanings of the words and what it was all about.

It’s amazing how much we get done and I don’t even realize it until I list it all!