Today’s Homeschool Day

14 Oct

The little men were up and moving by 8.30am.  I got up before this though to have a few moments to myself.  I started a load of washing, did some morning chores, prepared for the day ahead, and checked my email.

During breakfast, after Bible reading, I read aloud to the boys from a new novel.  We’re studying World War 2 and so our current novel is “Jacob’s Rescue”.  Currently, I’m trying to plough through a History novel a week so I checked the number of chapters, divided that number by the days we had available to read (only four this week as we’re off to the theatre on Friday) and then aimed to read a bit extra, just in case.  In the end we read six chapters this morning.  Plus, our reading was scattered with discussions and questions.

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We also read, “Let the Celebrations Begin” which is about an event in a concentration camp during WW2.  I saw this book at the museum store on the weekend and remembered that we owned it so I dug it out this morning and we shared it.  The boys knew from the cover illustration what the content was about.

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Last week we read numerous picture books that contained personification, to introduce this literary device.  Today we discussed anthropomorphism and reviewed personification.  I found some great worksheets on the net that we worked through orally together.  I read the sentence aloud and the boys had to take turns identifying what was being personified and what human trait or quality was being attributed to it.  We worked through six pages of sentences and by the end I was confident that my little men clearly understood the topic.

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We also read another chapter from Building Language.  This book introduces word stems and their meaning.

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Ethan made this chart when we first started reading the book and each time he adds the news stems to his list.  Today we reviewed all of our previously learned stems and brainstormed some words that utilised the stems, before reading the new chapter and adding the new information.

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Every school day we chant through the countries in the continents we are studying.  It only takes a few minutes.  Currently we are learning South America, while still reviewing Asia and Europe.  I used to use unnamed maps but I’ve been reading a lot about utilising our senses for memory work and so now the boys point to each country, hear me say the name and then read and repeat the name.  Seems to be going very well.

The boys also orally reviewed their multiplication facts.

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By this point all of our joint work was complete and my washing needing hanging so I set my men to their independent work.  Brayden worked on writing his good copy of a report about the Great War.

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Ethan worked on fixing a Math paper from last week while I hung out the washing.

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As soon as Ethan and I were ready, we worked on Ethan’s Latin together.  He could write out the answers by himself but when he works orally I can instruct and guide him as he works, rather than waiting for him to make a mistake in his written translation and for me to find it at the end.  Plus I get to learn Latin alongside him.  This way is also faster, allowing Ethan to complete a lesson in five minutes.  Today, as Brayden was still working on his writing, Ethan completed two Latin lessons.

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After Latin, Ethan set to work on his daily Math lesson, so I checked the mail and found a large parcel from Classical Historian, a Book Depository parcel and the final cards that we needed for our Aussie Animals collection.  Both boys left their work and came to place the final animal cards in their collection.

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I sent the boys back to work and drooled over the large parcel.  From the study Brayden called and asked if he could open the parcel for me.  Sensing he could be looking for a way out of work (although I know he loves opening parcels), I permitted him to open the parcel but he had to wait until lunch time…which meant I too had to wait.  Probably a good thing.

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In the Book Depository parcel was the book that Ethan has been eager to read.  It has only just been published so he has been counting down the days until its arrival.  You know you’ve created a reader when they grin from ear to ear when a book arrives just for them.  I suspect he’ll be up late tonight reading.

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I had to nudge him back to work.  He was working on multiplying fractions that required you to convert a mixed number to a fraction first.  Easy stuff to do if you keep your eye on the figuring.  Ethan was finished by lunchtime.

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Before lunch Brayden finished his writing and set to work also fixing his Math paper from the week before.  Both boys had left the simplifying, when multiplying, until the end of their fraction problems when they had been asked not to, as it leaves you with unruly numbers to deal with.

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At 1pm we were all ready for lunch.  First, Brayden opened my parcel from Classical Historian and I got to drool over goodies.  The boys then ate and watched taped episodes of Cyberchase and Backyard Science.

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After a well deserved hour long lunch break, the boys got back to work.  Brayden completed his daily Math lesson.  At present they are both working on the same Math as Brayden is capable of keeping up with his brother and it makes teaching them easier when you can keep them together.

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Ethan set to work finishing up bit and pieces in his World War 1 project.  He’s been working on it for ages.

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Today he used Excel to create a graph of the casualties for each country that was involved.  Now he just needs to ‘hire’ Hubby or I to proofread his project and he’s ready to print and bind it.

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Since we finished all of our planned work so quickly today, we gathered on the lounge and read a few more things together.  First we read another lesson in “The Fallacy Detective” and orally completed the exercises, and discussed our answers.

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Then I read aloud another Patricia Polacco book.  I’ve borrowed all the library had and we’ve been reading through them.  She’s got some great discussion starter books.  “The Junkyard Wonders” was just as good as the others we’ve read.  In fact, better!  The narrator in the story, a little girl in a special class, was Patricia Polacco herself!  Her special needs class was nicknamed, “The Junkyard” but her teacher showed the children how to reach for the stars and in the epilogue Patricia shares the amazing things the key characters have achieved in real life.  This book led to lots of discussion, which is exactly as I had planned.  Picture books aren’t just for little kids.

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The boys then requested that I read a few more chapters of “Jacob’s Rescue” .  I read another four chapters, taking us to halfway through the book.

That was technically the end of our school day.  However, Ethan then asked if he could do some computer programming in the afternoon.  I’ll certainly be writing that down as school in my records but he teaches it to himself and I’m best to stay out of his way.

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Brayden, having finished all of his school work also, headed off to do his own thing.  During the afternoon he built with Lego, was seen tearing around the yard, and making his usual ‘creative’ messes in the playroom.  Me, I washed dishes that had waited patiently for me all day, took the washing off the line, folded it and put it all away.  By 5pm the house was restored and I sat down to enjoy crackers and cheese with hubby while pondering what should be created for dinner.

In the evening, after dinner, we sat down as a family and began watching a movie about Hitler.  Yes, I realise its rating, but we censored it as necessary, and watching it together allows us to pause and discuss the content.

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To complete the evening, Hubby took the boys to bed and read several chapters from their current book in the Roman Mysteries series.  Ordinarily Ethan would then read to Hubby from his read aloud novel but tonight he was too eager to get started with his new book “Mousemobile”.

Me, I’m heading to get a cuppa of tea to sip while I look over my Classical Historian goodies.

Hope you enjoyed our day.

Night all.  🙂


Posted by on October 14, 2013 in Homeschooling Days


8 responses to “Today’s Homeschool Day

  1. Jen in NSW

    October 15, 2013 at 2:42 am

    Hi Tracey,

    Do you set projects often? And how long did you allow for this one?

    Jen in NSW

  2. Tracey

    October 15, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I don’t set projects like schools do. They just kind of evolve. Sometimes they are my idea and some times they are initiated by the boys.

    For this WW1 project we had just written so much about the topic that we decided to collate it all together. Ethan went through and organised his writing on the computer and worked out a list of other topics that he felt needed to be written about to complete the ‘story’. To help out, I used his ‘needed’ topics as our writing content so his gaps were filled in easily. He then tidied everything up and added pictures and captions, plus labelled maps and now his graphs and voila, he has a project. But no, I don’t set dates at this point as I set aside time during our school for him to complete this work. The time involved in completing the projects various greatly according to the task.

  3. Ilovechocolate

    October 15, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I admire what you’re doing and learn from you, Tracey. Do you have the personification worksheet link? I just couldn’t imagine fitting in a project to our daily schedule of 6 hours (2 hours maths, 2 hours language arts, 1 hour science, 1 hour book study), how important is it to create projects, from a teacher’s POV? Thanks, Sarah

  4. Ilovechocolate

    October 15, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Also, where did you get the geography pics from? thanks

  5. Tracey

    October 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Here’s the link to the worksheets:

    We work long hours too – generally 8.30 to 4 or 5pm depending on what we are doing and the day. At present we’re running on a lighter than normal load as we tie up loose ends here and there. I have our reporting due at the end of the term so we’re working through a list of to dos.

    Projects honestly don’t take long, particularly since ours are usually writing tasks anyway. I’m not into paper mache and posterboards. 🙂 So our projects are usually just a way of presenting work that has already been done or work that would have been done anyway.

    Maybe the term is wrong. Projects imply some cutsie thing, but ours are usually more wordy than decorative. Maybe I should call them assignments, but that wouldn’t fit either as they aren’t conducted like assignments. They are usually just an idea that someone suggests like ‘we should write a book about silkworms’ or ‘let’s put all your ww1 writing together in one place’. Maybe I should call them ‘final products’ but then I don’t necessarily believe we have to have something written to prove we know it.

    Okay maybe this will help. If our curriculum has worksheets or question and answer formats, we generally don’t do them. I don’t see much value in that type of work. We tend to work through it orally. However we do use our writing time to write about what we are learning. The boys often write reports and essays. This isn’t to ‘prove’ that they’ve learned something but as a content medium for learning to write well. Since we read a lot, we have a lot of great background knowledge that is helpful when writing. (I’m not a ‘Let’s write a story’ type of teacher. After years of reading that stuff at school I couldn’t do it to my own children.) So a lot of our writing just happens to be non-fiction and rather than having a pile of stories that the boys have written, we have lots of report on related topics that lend themselves perfectly to being compiled into some sort of product. This doesn’t take much time at all and the kids enjoy it.

    As for it’s ‘teaching value’, I think it’s more about learning to research and write than the actual final product. We do the research and writing as part of IEW and the final product just evolves for us. Schools treat the project differently. They see it as a key assessment tool. They are always looking at the end product because they don’t have the time to assess each student during the process. The project itself is not the important part, it’s the work that went into it that matters – the research, the organisation of thoughts and the learning how to write that matters. And we have to have time for that. 🙂

  6. Tracey

    October 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    The maps are just from Google images. But I’m thinking about buying Wonder Maps

  7. Jen C

    October 16, 2013 at 9:30 am

    How do you think your day would work if you had an extra young one to teach and a baby?

  8. Tracey

    October 16, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Tricky question Jen. Reality is always different to the imagined. From when my boys were young and I was juggling one school aged child and one eager beaver youngster I remember constantly tweaking what we did to keep one step ahead of them. Some tweaks worked, and some didn’t. From one week to the next it could look different. Partly it was because I was a green homeschooler finding my feet but a part of it was also dealing with littlies and trying to train them into a workable solution.
    This coming year I’m going to get another taste of this period as I help care for my niece here and there. But I’m not planning on changing anything much. I’ll be working to fit Little Miss into our day rather than making school fit to her. But we’ll see how that works.
    Hypothetically I’m thinking of it like how how I moulded my boys into sitting through two hours of Church. People were astounded that my young children could sit through it quietly, week after week. But I was determined and I worked hard, little by little, to train them into it. Some weeks we did have to remove them, but nowadays I can sit back confidently and know that my men will be a credit to us.
    But like I said, hypotheticals and reality can be very far apart, although my heart wouldn’t be in watering down education for the sake of additional children. There has to be a way to do it. Maybe the key is determination and always trying to find a way, even if day after day we fall short. What’s that saying….”The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark”. 🙂


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